The pandemic has totally disrupted the restaurant business. Many restaurants will not survive and the ones that do will struggle in the face of operational changes.
The public is understandably nervous about patronizing businesses, which by their very nature, especially in an Arizona summer, require you to sit in a closed environment surrounded by a fellow citizen who may be infected by COVID-19.
Furthermore, all of us have become conditioned to eating at home, preparing our own meals and, in most instances, enjoying the experience.
Nevertheless, it is inevitable that most Scottsdale residents and its visitors will once again become restaurant frequenters like in the past.
Almost everyone relishes a night on the town at our favorite establishment and the chance to interact with the public.
As we return to our cherished old ways, we should try to patronize restaurants which practice social distancing and prudent prophylactic policies.
For a number of understandable reasons, many restaurants have chosen not to do so.
They are desperately trying to make up for the debilitating loss of income and are not required to do so under either local or state law.
They may insinuate they are practicing prudent policies, but look the other way when advantageous to do so.
Requiring staff to wear masks, implementing stringent cleaning practices, and limiting diners to ensure proper distancing all hurt the bottom line. As restaurants try to make up for what can only be a staggering amount of lost revenue, ignoring all of these practices is tempting. It is especially attractive when a surprising percentage of the local population does not seem to care either way.
Unfortunately, it is a bit disconcerting to have your server wearing a mask, which does take away from an otherwise festive atmosphere. Furthermore, it is easier to simply find an excuse or justification for returning to the previous norm.
As you can well imagine, this is extremely frustrating to restaurateurs who are committed to protecting both their employees and their customers and who recognize the seriousness of the pandemic.
Sadly, many of them have endured complaints by their patrons who do not like to see their serving staff don masks and are displeased they cannot get a table because space is limited.
Even more surprisingly, in certain instances, the customers accuse such businesses of “overreacting” to a state of affairs that they believe is “overstated” or “exaggerated.” Even worse are individuals who believe the pandemic is only a political myth.
Under the circumstances, if you really want to help truly deserving businesses, try to frequent restaurants which have implemented protective strategies and let them know you appreciate it.
Remember, they are not doing so for their own financial benefit. These restaurants have decided that protecting the public is more important than increasing the bottom line, and such conduct should be condoned and recognized.
The reality that they may also be saving lives should not be minimized.
-Randy Nussbaum is a long-time resident of Scottsdale and a Shareholder with the Scottsdale law firm Sacks Tierney.