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What to Expect at Local Restaurants

Published: March 06, 2021


Many of our local restaurants are ready and eager to welcome diners back inside. And you are probably just as ready for a meal out. But what should you expect when dining at restaurants under the most recent risk level? Each restaurant may implement requirements differently, and not every restaurant is able to open yet, so it is always a good idea to call ahead. In general, here are some things you may notice:

An (Extra) Emphasis on Clean

  • Surfaces and high-touch places are frequently sanitized. The way menus and payment options are handled may be modified to reduce unnecessary touching and sharing.

Roomy Seating Arrangements

  • Some restaurants have opened up outdoor patios and sidewalk dining. Just like outside, inside seating arrangements will be spaced at least six feet apart and with a maximum seating capacity. If a restaurant is taking reservations, it may be a good idea to get your name on the list.

Face Masks

First National Taphouse by Melanie Griffin
First National Taphouse by Melanie Griffin
  • Staff will be wearing face masks and customers are required to do so too, unless they are seated at their table. 

Personalized Service & Individual Containers

  • Wait service has replaced most self-service. You will note that buffets, salad bars, soda machines, refill stations and coffee stations may have been removed or are not operational. Likewise, condiments may be be offered in individual packets or presented only upon request. Single serve and disposal items may be used more frequently.

Focus on the Food

Ninkasi Better Living Room by Melanie Griffin
Ninkasi Better Living Room by Melanie Griffin


  • Don't expect communal dining to resume for a while. Instead enjoy the culinary experience with your immediate party. Jukeboxes, arcade machines and lottery terminals may be accessible if six feet apart and cleaned between customers. 

Tips For Being an Excellent Customer 

Beyond normal sanitation practices, some of these protocols have created more challenges for service. Both customers and servers are navigating unfamiliar routines from behind masks. So here are reminders before eating out:

Kindness & Patience

  • We can't say this enough: kindness first. Think of your servers as your flight attendants for this return journey to "dining out." At times it may be a turbulent flight, and we're all hoping it's short and they are here to ensure your safety.

Be Generous

  • Enjoy your meal, but remember lingering at a table may be costly for the restaurant. Try to be respectful of everyone's time and space by not lingering too long after your meal.
  • If you're in a position to tip well, an extra gratuity will be very appreciated by restaurant staff who may have been without work for several months.

Limit Your Use of Restroom Facilities 

  • Please plan ahead and minimize use of restaurant restrooms. When you do use the facilities, give fellow diners appropriate distance. 

Have Fun, Smile & Enjoy Yourself

McMenamins North Bank in Eugene by Melanie Griffin
McMenamins North Bank in Eugene by Melanie Griffin
  • By dining out you are supporting the community and giving a boost to local businesses and residents. It is also a break for you from the kitchen! Enjoy the fresh scenery, the service and, of course, the delicious food!

Be Prepared for Changes

Nothing stays the same and guidelines and practices may vary between establishments, communities, counties and states. Current COVID-19 case numbers, phased timelines and more may impact protocols. Defer to the current Lane County guidelines. Restaurants may open or close without notice. Be ready with a mask and a healthy dose of patience and understanding, and you'll be ready to return to dining out!

George + Violet's continues to offer take-out and has re-opened their dining room for limited indoor seating.
Viking Braggot Company braggot with pizza by Daniel McTavish
In response to COVID-19 protocols, these restaurants are providing take out, and sometimes delivery, so you can still enjoy great food… More Info
Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.