Growing up, my parents didn't have a lot of money, but they made up for it in love.

They provided my sisters and I some great life experiences, that didn't blow the family  budget.

One of those experiences was going on family picnics. The idea of "eating out" was often Mom's fried chicken and macaroni salad out of aluminum-foil wrapped Corning Ware and Tupperware, served on paper plates on an old wooden picnic table in the middle of a park somewhere.

I think a lot of people today have never been on a picnic.

We learned to eat outside among the bugs, including the spider webs under the table, in hot sun, or heavy clouds, the wind, sometimes with a downpour hitting before we were done.

There were balls and frisbees flying, music or ballgames coming from the radio, and sometimes some extra cousins and aunts and uncles to make it a party.

Basically it was dinner, but it was also "anything can happen." (I think the phrase today is "Sh*t happens....")

Flash forward to today where, thanks to COVID-19, more and more people are eating out. It seems some have never been outside before.

I came across a Facebook post over the weekend where someone actually gave a review of a restaurant, sayin  basically, , "The food was great, but the band was too loud - don't go there!"

Um, really?

I wonder if the person asked to be moved. I wonder if the band was playing when they were seated. I wondered if the person had ever been on a picnic.

There are some things I do want to talk about though.

1. Act like you've eaten outside before.

The restaurant's management and their servers can only control what they can control. The heat, the temperature, the sun, the rain, the wind are all on the Big Guy upstairs.

2. YOU are taking a risk by eating out.

The aforementioned weather happens. (Remember, Sh*t happens?) Check the forecast before heading out. You have a phone in your hand right now, right? Use that to check out the weather. It's 2020, you can be your own meteorologist!

Cat Country 107.3 logo
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

3. Stop with the suggestions!

(Truth here: I have a few family members currently working in the South Jersey restaurant industry. I hear about your comments, questions, and misbehaving almost daily. No, I won't tell you where they

Telling restaurant staff that they need: bigger tents, tents with sides, bug spray, bug zappers, big fans, "those outside air conditioner thingys", misters, etc, isn't  helpful to ANYONE.

Restaurants are running on shoestring budgets as it is. Most during normal times are just trying to stay afloat. Now, they're dealing with less tables. The need to rent and purchase outdoor tents and furniture make it ever more tough.

Believe me, even though a busy restaurant serving outdoors seems to be "raking in the cash", they are not raking in the cash.

4. Know that there probably is a plan for disaster.

If it violently storms in the middle of your dinner, understand the management probably has a plan. You might not agree with the plan, but there's the plan. Be ready to roll with it.

Don't argue that now, with the storm,  you should be able to go eat inside. They can't do that. It's not allowed. The plan might be dumping your food in a to-go container and handing it to you. Understand that going in. Assume the risk. Don't argue and do pay your bill.

5. Treat your servers like human beings.

Remember, no one is used to this. Everyone is finding their way. This is not a perfect scenario in anyone's mind.

Your server can only control what they can control. Again, understand that going in.

If your meal is interrupted and you have to eat half of it at home, that's not the server's fault. Don't penalize them.

6. Don't take up a table longer than you need to.

Again, the restaurants are running on a shoestring budget right now. The only way they're going to make money is to turn the tables quicker. If there's a line at the restaurant, be aware of that. After your meal, pay, tip, and go. Linger next time.

This shouldn't be the time you go to a restaurant with 3 other people and you all split ONE appetizer and ONE entree. What is that?

7. Be easy with the reviews.

It's 2020, everyone wants to share their lives on social media. Just try to be extra nice. It's a tough time and we're all trying to survive, Karen.

8. Stay home.

If you can't understand the "rules" and you think rules don't apply to you, do everyone a favor and stay home.

Or, go on a picnic.



South Jersey's Favorite Candy Shops

More From Cat Country 107.3