For the most part the tapas bars and restaurants I have been to over the past couple of months have been doing their best with taking precautions and keeping their establishments as safe as possible for both staff and clients. But you know, nobody’s perfect and also, as time passes, people tend to slack off a bit. Even as a second wave looms (reported cases and deaths keep mounting) some people are still in denial. Not me though! I am not only at a higher risk of catching this fucker due to previous cancer and chemo, but with my age, etc, I am also not likely to survive it. So yeah, you could say I have a vested interest in how the public is behaving in terms of the pandemic.
The other day I posted this photo of stacked up bread baskets on my Instagram. Some of you may remember that this disgusting practice has always been, well, disgusting to me. I mean, the baskets (filled with bread and often also napkins and cutlery) are put on tables, placed on chairs, passed from person to person, then taken away, stacked up, NEVER CLEANED, and then reused. In some cases, even the uneaten bread is “recycled” (yes, I have seen this happen with my own eyes). And while it was always an unsanitary and disgusting practice before COVID, now it’s actually criminal.
Response to this Instagram post has been, um, interesting. The general public (customers like me) are very supportive and happy someone has brought this to light. But replies from bar and restaurant owners have varied. Some are also supportive, others are defensive, others have accused me of harming the hospitality industry by… pointing out something disgusting? Anyhow, as this is my personal blog I thought I would post my list (have been working on this since the end of June) about the good, bad and ugly I’ve seen in bars and restaurants around town. And please believe me when I say I mean this to be helpful. I have not (and will not) mention names, and the photo I am using here is from a bar that no longer exists. So it is not a name and shame thing at all.
I want to start off by saying that the majority of places I have been to are doing things (mostly) right. Proper distancing, disinfecting gel readily available, staff wearing masks (it’s the law), and basically doing their best. But I have noticed a few infractions and post them here just to say… hey guys, please pay attention. I am not criticising anyone, god knows things are tough all over, but these few simple things can make a big difference. These observations apply to both restaurants and patrons.
Bars & Restaurants
- Wear the mask properly
this means also covering your nose, but you already knew that
- Wear masks not shields
the face visor is a good extra protection for the wearer, but it does nothing to prevent droplets from falling down onto tables or customers
- Staff hand cleaning
really, just do it ALL THE TIME. Some places have set timers so staff will remember to do this every 15 minutes
- Bread baskets
they were never sanitary, now they could be deadly. Simple solutions include serving bread on plates, and this could also include the napkin and cutlery (which are often also included in the bread basket). Some bars are putting cutlery into paper envelopes and serve pre-wrapped bread and picos on plates
- Preset tables
I know it looks pretty to walk in and see all the tables set, but, you know, in the meantime people could be breathing all over them
- QR menus or single use printed ones
I am still seeing some bars offering their usual menus that are not disinfected afterwards
- Antiseptic gel at every table
many places offer a squirt bottle of gel as you walk in, and it’s not always noticeable. We should be accustomed to looking for it by now, but as we all know, some people still need educating. Make it easy and obvious.
- La bayeta (the porous spongy cloth normally used to wipe down bars and tables)
I mean, just no. Like the bread baskets, these things have often been a source of grossness as they are left sitting on the bar all day, or for days… c’mon, you know how gross your own kitchen cloth gets. So for now use rolls of paper towels and while spraying and wiping down the tables, don’t forget the chairs.
- Toilet seat lids
there are still many tapas bars that don’t have lids on their toilet seats, or even seats on their toilets. The toilet lid should always be shut before flushing and the bathroom should be given time to air out between uses
- Unplug bathroom hand dryers
don’t want to be blowing droplets all over people’s faces
playing music just makes people talk louder, forcing droplets further
- Book tables in advance and keep your appointment
- Wear masks anytime you get up from the table
(to go to the toilet, to the bar, whatever)
- Slip mask back on between courses
or whenever there’s a longish break between eating and drinking,
or when the waiter comes over to describe the specials, desserts etc
- Be courteous and speak at a normal volume
shouting or excessive laughing carries droplets well beyond 1.5 metres, so remember you are going out for a meal in a public place, you’re not at a raucous private party
- Use the hand gel during your meal
it should be there at your table
- Pay by credit card if possible
- Tip well!
I’m supposing if you can afford to eat out you can also afford at least a 10% tip
- Make use of take-away and delivery options
Many bars and restaurants are offering these options now and it’s way to eat well and also support your favourite places. Many will also delivery wine and even pre-mixed cocktails
If you can think of anything else let me know! But please don’t think for one minute that I don’t have the best interests of my beloved bars and restaurants at heart. I love them, they are such a big part of my life. I just really want them to survive.