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The Dos and Don’ts of Pandemic Dining

Customer service week is October 5-9th this year, and this is an especially important time to thank and appreciate workers. Not only were restaurants, stores, and bars hit hard with the COVID-19 closures, but we’re also forced to deal with the aftermath and struggles of opening back up. I have worked in a restaurant for years and this summer has been incredibly difficult, and almost traumatizing. In honor of customer service week, I made a list of the dos and don’ts specific to restaurant dining. While these statements should always be abided by, this is the time to follow them and show appreciation for workers.

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Don’t yell at employees for asking you to wear a mask

I am a strong believer in the fact that nobody should yell at an employee for policies and rules they do not make and cannot control. Store and restaurant policies, especially for chain companies, are not determined by the actual service employees. The same goes for masks. I have been yelled at by many individuals this summer because masks are “not necessary”, “dumb”, or “don’t work”. One man even swore at me (embarrassing for him). Sorry folks, I don’t make the rules. No matter what your opinion on masks may be, yelling at an employee for a mandate is completely unacceptable.

Do be patient

Due to implemented safety regulations, restaurants have had to temporarily remove tables to keep a safe distance between guests. With fewer tables and many people still going out, wait times will be significantly longer. Keep this in mind when going out to dine and be especially patient with your server. Many restaurants have fewer staff members, all of whom are definitely overwhelmed and doing their best.

Don’t tell workers how to do their job

While I think this should always be a don’t, please especially avoid doing this now. For me and many others, job specifications and tasks have been drastically changed to make room for additional sanitation and safety. A prime example is when customers try to tell you a table is “clean”. If an empty table looks clean, I promise you, it’s not. There may not be anything left on the table, but we have many extra sanitation steps that must be taken before someone can be seated.

Do read posted signs and instructions

At my restaurant, we have many signs posted outside for dine-in and takeout guests outlining new rules and regulations. Unfortunately, many people don’t bother to read these which typically leads to confusion and customers being upset. Pay close attention to updated hours, as many restaurants have changed opening and closing times. Lastly, make sure you understand the procedure for ordering and picking up a takeout order. My restaurant has a table outside we place to-go orders for contactless pick-up. Too often, customers call asking where their food is, all while sitting in their car right next to the table.

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Things may seem like they are going “back to normal”, but for any type of customer service work, this will not be the case for a while. Keep in mind these do’s and don’ts to be a better guest. If you go anywhere from October 5-9th, tell an employee thank you. Maybe tip them a little extra. Leave a positive note on your bill. Anything to show your appreciation for our work during this time will make someone’s day.

I'm Anna and I am in the Chemical Engineering program at the U! I'm from Seattle, WA and came to Utah for school. Other organizations I am part of are ASUU, AIChE, SWE, the Utah Freeskier Society, and I'm a host at Porcupine!
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