Restaurants can reopen! Maybe! Sorta? Almost. Governor Baker has moved Massachusetts into Phase 2 of reopening on June 8 after shutting down the state in March. Playgrounds are back, doctors are open and outdoor dining is giving a glimmer of hope to the hurting hospitality industry.
But here in Cambridge and Somerville, it’s not as easy as putting up a tent, flipping on the neon and welcoming back customers. There’s a logistical log jam on just about every level from licensing to staffing to supply chain, local to state to federal.
A System Overwhelmed
These log jams are exacerbated by the fact that every restaurant in town is experiencing the same problems at the same time. Opening a restaurant is always an arduous process but when all of the restaurants in the city are trying to open at the same time it is just…
Head spinning? Paralyzing? Nausea inducing? A grand scale headache, for sure.
As we called around this week, talking to the Somerville licensing commission and to restauranteurs for an upcoming story, we couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone involved was worried and exhausted by the challenges of reopening. A hard hit industry keeps getting walloped and it breaks our hearts.
The challenges of reopening for outdoor dining are just the cherry on the stress-sundae for restaurant folks. Predatory third-party delivery services. Public health worries. Rent and operating costs that won’t be reduced while capacity is limited. There are a pile of problems on every restauranteur’s plate.
The Hits Keep Coming
And that’s all before the possibility of dealing with surly, spittle-flecked, COVID-denying customers. Early reports from reopened establishments around the country don’t paint the best picture of humanity and we’re hoping that wave of vitriol doesn’t wash up on our shores.
Which will all be followed by a new and unforeseen set of problems next week, like fresh plates at the crisis-buffett.
So this weekend, save a little extra patience for your restaurant folks. Call in and pick up your food instead of using a delivery app. Leave a little something extra on the tip line. Remember that everyone serving the public during this pandemic is under extreme pressure and deserves kindness and grace.
And order an extra appetizer. We could all use some extra garlic bread these days.