Alexander: Stop Doing the Bare Minimum at Restaurants

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By CJ Alexander, Opinion Writer

 

No one has escaped the wrath of 2020. But small businesses, particularly restaurants and bars, have had to reinvent their entire day-to-day operations to stay open amid the pandemic.

Many major studies have named restaurants and bars “transmission hotspots,” and Utah is no exception. Even after quarantining, these bustling public places have had to take extreme precautions while limiting their services to accommodate for CDC and state guidelines. Yet there is only so much a business can do to keep everyone safe. As a working server in a local Ogden restaurant, I can see that Utahns are becoming less considerate about COVID, despite the state having almost 180,000 cases. At this point in the pandemic, it’s exhausting to tell people what is respectful or thoughtless in a restaurant. There are many things to consider when going out to one right now, and it’s essential to take note. It’s time for Utahns to start being more considerate when in public places like restaurants. 

As a patron of any small business, wearing a mask is the bare minimum, with no exceptions except for infants and toddlers. Stop politicizing safety and use a face-covering. Takeout orders are high in demand because of the pandemic. These orders are time-consuming as servers check the accuracy of food items, make the packaging secure, and conduct safe exchanges of payment with customers. Because these orders take up so much time, wait times for takeout are significantly longer. Furthermore, cleaning up after other patrons also takes up more time, as restaurants are trying their best to prepare for other guests and make dine-in safer. Be patient with wait times as servers are making the restaurant safe for you. Try to be more considerate when choosing to go to a restaurant at this time. There is so much going on behind the scenes for your safety, and we need you to return the favor.

As restaurants welcome customers back in a safe manner, families who come in could help make the lives of staff easier by following the lead of restaurant regulars. Where I work, I have plenty of regular family diners who order takeout — with large groups, I absolutely prefer this method to encourage safety. I recognize that through takeout, customers are taking the pandemic seriously, as well as my safety, which I appreciate so much. Regulars also tend to clean up after themselves when dining in, try not to use our menus too much, or access our menu online to limit exposure. Our consistent diners also try to stack plates, dishes, and trash to help the staff bus tables faster and efficiently. Having to pick up half-eaten chicken wings off the table and put it onto a plate is already disgusting, but during the pandemic it’s dangerous. So when regular customers help servers out this way, I know they are being more considerate of us.

During the pandemic, many people are struggling to make ends meet, and servers are no exception. In Utah, servers make $2.30 an hour, and their major source of income is tips alone. Servers put forth so much effort into making customers’ dining experiences exceed expectations. We wait, hand and foot, on people and try our absolute hardest to make the best of a hard situation. When servers aren’t tipped, it feels as if their efforts are wasted. I’ve had my fair-share of no-tippers and it’s exhausting and degrading. Customers can make a difference, especially during the pandemic. A simple dollar can go a long way, especially with such a low hourly wage.

Working as a server amid the pandemic is exhausting, especially when we have to ask people to not touch everything, socially distance, wear a mask, and have basic decency. We already have to deal with rude customers, and the pandemic makes it all more difficult. As a patron of businesses, you have the power to keep yourself and others safe. Take the pandemic seriously. And while you’re at it, tip your servers.

 

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@CamdenAlexande1