After a months-long hiatus, restaurants across South Florida have reopened their dining rooms. But as I mentioned in a previous article, things are very different these days. While some people are rushing out to restaurants for a nice break from being cooped up, others—like me and my wife—are a little more reluctant to eat out.
We can do our best to take the proper precautions, but we don’t exactly feel safe sitting in a crowded dining room; other people might not be as cautious. Our fear is compounded by my wife’s autoimmune condition, which puts her at a high risk of contracting coronavirus. So for us, dining out carries a big risk.
But it was a risk we were willing to take recently at Lot 6, a Little River lot that’s widely used for culinary pop-ups and other outdoor events. Jaguar Sun, a beloved Downtown Miami watering hole, used the space to host a completely contactless experience off-site—one that promised to put our fears at ease.
It did. Here’s how they pulled it off:
Digital Menus and Receipts
When we arrived for our reservation, a host showed us to our table. They provided some disposable cutlery and informed us there was no paper menu. We were directed to a website, where we would place our entire order. Everything had to be ordered at once, but we already knew what we wanted: aguachile, corn, and tacos plus some parker house roll beignets and mango for dessert. And oh yeah, beer.
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Cheese and crackers was that one for the story books- a huge thank you to everyone that came out and made Saturday such a success. We’re going to play it back this weekend and are officially opening the book for dinner reservations at Lot 6 today! Please shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join us for a v fun and socially distant, outdoor, contact-free meal either Friday or Saturday.
If we wished to order more drinks or more food, we would need to text our table number and order to a specific phone number. There would be no receipt to sign at the end of the night—when you’re done, you just walk out. Needless to say, it was a little weird to stuff our faces and leave; we felt like we were dining and dashing, but nobody batted an eye. We eventually received our receipt via email the next day. It was a seamless process.
Socially Distant Tables
County regulations mandate that tables are situated at least six feet apart. That was no problem at Lot 6, which had ample room to space them out beyond that recommendation. In fact, Jaguar Sun set up the place to take advantage of Lot 6’s elevated areas; some settings were raised higher than others, providing a nice full view of the site.
Because we informed the staff of my wife’s autoimmune situation ahead of time, we managed to snag one of those coveted tables. It felt nice to be secluded, but despite our tables being farther than most, we still felt part of something special. Our friends, who were seated at different tables, had no issues hearing us despite being over six feet away. We’re sure the staff also appreciated the extra space to run food and drinks to their respective tables.
Even the most particular germophobe would be impressed by the sanitation measures taken by Jaguar Sun during their inaugural outdoor popup. Each table and touchpoint in the venue featured a bottle of hand sanitizer for use (no, you couldn’t take it home.) Bathrooms were single use only with ample cleansing supplies to last the night.
Once the staff knew guests were departing for the night, they’d immediately wipe down the party’s table and get it ready for the next party. This happened regularly throughout our two-hour experience; it was a well-oiled machine.
If all places took customer safety as seriously as Jaguar Sun, we’d likely go out to eat a lot more than we do right now. But in the days following our experience, we came across a fair share of local eateries packed to the brim with no regard for social distancing or correct facemask use. Just take a drive through Coconut Grove or Coral Gables on a weekend night, and you’ll come across good AND bad examples.
Our suggestion to you if you’re unsure of dining in: Do your research. Call the restaurant and ask about their COVID-19 protocols. The ones who take it seriously should be forthcoming about that information. And remember, there’s always takeout and delivery.