Initially, I was a bit apprehensive. I wasn’t overly excited to go out to dinner here in San Diego and have to abide by California’s COVID-19 Phase 2 rules.
But I was also curious. I had a lot of questions, such as: do we have to wear a mask the entire time? And if so, do we pull it down to eat and drink? What will the restaurant look like with tables spaced out six feet apart? What will be the mood of the other diners and the staff? Will I need a salt or pepper shaker?
And now having done it, I am anxious to do it again and can report the experience was not all that different from a pre-coronavirus dinner. In fact, it was better because it felt like a special occasion. A celebration. Almost New Year’s Eve-ish, in fact.
We went to Greystone Steakhouse, a fine dining establishment in the Gaslamp and a favorite spot of my friends. Here is everything you need to know about the experience:
• Masks were required when we entered the restaurant
• Masks were not required once we were seated. No other diners were wearing masks while they ate
• The staff wore masks the entire time
• Tables were six feet apart
• The menu was disposable
• There were no salt or pepper shakers on the table. Tho at this fine restaurant they are not needed
• There was one group of six people; groups are limited to 10 at a table
• Nobody stopped me when I got up to go to the restroom and there was a hand sanitizer device on the wall by the restrooms
The staff was exceptional. They were friendly and I could feel their smile even behind their masks; they were obviously thrilled to be back at work and to be serving their regular customers.
The food was outstanding, which was no surprise. My friends didn’t talk much while eating their steaks – other than saying “oh, you have to try this!” between bites – while I opted for the chicken. Tho I prefer it to red meat, I don’t often order chicken because it so often comes out dry, even in fine restaurants. That was not the case with this dish.
I asked a waitress if she minded having to wear a mask all evening. Not really, she said, “but we do a lot of running between the kitchen and other areas in order to serve our customers and it’s a little difficult to breathe through it then.”
One table over from us were four people from the KUSI TV-9 Good Morning San Diego show, including co-anchor Paul Rudy and colorful weatherman Mark Mathis. My friend bought them a round of drinks and said it was from PubClub.com, which was a very nice gesture on his part.
Overall, it was nice to be out again, to enjoy a dinner, to be with friends and to make some temporary new friends. Once we got settled in, the experience was not all that different from a pre-coronavirus dinner.