As Charlotte restaurants reopen, Here’s What you need to know…

June 25 Update – Remember the three W’s – wash your hands, watch your distance and WEAR A MASK – when you go out in public. Its Super Simple, its how you can do your part to keep us all healthy and now, in North Carolina, it’s required in public places. That includes, that includes grocery stores, farmers’ markets, retail and restaurants. And please, don’t give the restaurants a hard time about it. If you go out to eat, be a responsible consumer and do your part to keep everyone safe. – H

– As we all cautiously enter Phase 2 of COVID reopenings, Charlotte restaurants around town are slowly begin to reopen for limited indoor dining and when available outdoor dining as well. Many continue to offer take out and Curbside service, as we all adjust to new mandates to help keep everyone safe.

I had the pleasure to talk about what you can expect the as you once again make plans to go out to eat with my friend Colleen Odegaard at Charlotte Today. We taped the video via Zoom me in my kitchen and Colleen at her home.

charlotte restaurants

Here is the link to the June 11, 2020 video. Give it a look see; and then, read more below on what to expect and  a few things you’ll need to know as you head out to support Charlotte restaurants and those across the state.

As I mention in the video, know that the “New Normal” isn’t normal at all; and we shouldn’t treat it as such. We won’t be going back to the way things were for a long while. Pay attention to new restrictions and mandates and help to do your part.

Restaurants are working with limited staff and at a limited capacity. Seating inside is only at 50% of a restaurants capacity. Seating outside is all 6 ft apart with most tables limited to parties of 2-4

Please remember to keep your distance – don’t ask for tables to be pushed together to accommodate larger parties; and should you see your friends across the room, wave hello, but don’t go over and pull up a chair.

To Mask or Not to Mask

While restaurant employees are not mandated to wear masks, your servers and staff working near your table will most likely be wearing a mask or keeping a safe distance from your table.

You are not required to wear a mask, but honestly, its the right thing to do.

You can take it off once you are seated at your table, but as you walk through parking lots and in to and out of restaurants, wearing a mask helps to keep you and everyone else a bit safer.

“Hands Free” and “Touchless” are the new names of the game

Look for touchless everything – from menus – on a big board, or on QR codes you access with your phone – to individual packets of salt and pepper. Lots of places are also doing diposable menus – so once you use it, it gets thrown away.

charlotte restaurants
A touchless QR menu from Global Restaurant in Pineville, NC.

Know that serve yourself service ( salad bars and drink stations) are most likely a thing of the past for the time being.

Restaurant employees will be constantly cleaning touch points before and after guests leave and sit down at tables. Hand sanitizer will be available at hostess stands, in bathrooms and often at tables – use it! Do your part.

Family Dining at Charlotte Restaurants

I hate to say it as I am a huge proponent of taking kids to more upscale restaurants for the experience of dining out; but. This may not be the time for family dining inside a Charlotte restaurant right now.

Older children should be fine if you are comfortable having them with you. But remember social distancing, masks for them too, and they can’t roam around, even if you are outside – like you, they will have to stay at your table.

If your child has made a mess, please help clean it up instead of leaving it for the limited staff. You can’t make the mess go away with a better tip. Although the heaftier gratuity is a lovely thought, restaurants are already understaffed right now to help make numbers work. These employees already have a lot of extra to do to help keep things clean for the next party without picking up all the crackers your child crumbled on the floor.

Make Advance Reservations

charlotte restaurants
An aged then grilled Harmony Ridge farms pork porterhouse steak on the menu this week at Zeppelin Restaurant in Charlotte’s Gold District on Tremont Ave.

It does feel good to be able to go out and eat again. I very much enjoyed this local aged pork porterhouse by Chef Vince Giancarlo on Tuesday night.

But, you need to do it right.

Make advance reservations for indoor seating.  Often outdoor seating will be first come first served. If you are not ordering and have finished your meal, please try not to linger. leave shortly after you have finished so that someone else can have your table. 

Remember, seating is limited to 50 % of what it used to be. Be respectful of the fact that other people want to support your restaurant of choice, too.

What else can you do to help Charlotte Restaurants make it through Phase 2?

While restaurants are carrying the lion’s share of work and responsibility, as customers and as citizens we have responsibilities of our own

Don’t be upset if your favorite place isn’t open yet, everyone is working to get things up and running and quick as possible and we need to understand that reopenings will take time.

This is still new for everyone, Be kind. Be patient, and if there is something that happens that makes you uncomfortable, don’t run to social media the day after your meal to complain. Instead, politely speak to the manager to express concerns either on site or with a friendly phone call the next day.

Likewise if you have had a good experience, tip well and spread the word. 

And finally,  restaurants are conducting health screenings on employees every shift, to keep us safe. Know that there is a possibility, some Charlotte Restaurants will ask to take your temperature upon arrival. If you feel uncomfortable with this procedure, then ask about it in advance of making your reservation.

Please help keep Charlotte restaurant workers and other guests safe. too.  If you are not feeling well, stay home and take good care and precaution – and wait till the next time to go out to eat. And, take the pledge….

Make the pledge to Count On Me NC

Once you sign the customer pledge at you’ll get a virtual sticker just like this one!

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association in partnership with Visit NC has initiated a program called Count On Me NC.

Restaurants across the state are taking courses, all a a part of the program, on how best to manage cleaning and safety details in all part of the restaurant. Once these courses have been completed, participating establishments will have Count oN me NC certificates on display and will have branded stickers at the front door or hostess stand. Its a way for customers to see that these establishment are going the extra mile.

As a responsible restaurant guest and customer, you can be a part of the program, too.

You can help create a safer, healthier environment for everyone by following a few guidelines and best practices. When you join Count On Me NC, here’s what you’re pledging to do:

  • Wear a cloth face covering like a mask or scarf.
  • Wait your turn by maintaining six feet of physical distance from others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
  • Use contactless delivery or takeout options if you have been recently exposed to, or have symptoms of, COVID-19.
  • Be patient and kind to staff and other guests as we all try to adjust to a new normal.

Its going to take time, but if we all work together, we will get thought this and come out healthier and safer on the other side.

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