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More than two months ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order temporarily closing Texas bars and restaurants. Nearly 700,000 Texas hospitality workers have lost their jobs since then.
Now, on Friday, bars will reopen, but with restrictions. If you plan on going out to celebrate, do it with the knowledge that things aren’t going to be like they were before the stay-at-home order. In fact, things may never be the same.
And that’s not your server’s fault. So be kind.
Bars are only allowed to open at 25% capacity, which means you’ll likely wait in line to get into whatever watering hole you’re visiting. When you’re finally permitted entry, you’ll be required to sit at a table at least six feet away from others. No more than five other guests will be able to share your table.
Dancing is discouraged. You also might not be allowed to shoot pool or throw darts. You might not hear the satisfying clink of a toast because your drink is served in a single-use container. You might not see your server’s smile behind the mask they’re strongly encouraged to wear. You might have to try a little harder to hear them.
New state-mandated sanitation protocols are in place, meaning the staff members serving you have just gotten a three-day crash course in what it takes to open legally and safely under the new policies. They’re tired and they’re worried. They’ve lost sleep and money. And they’re providing service to you at great personal risk. The potential for contracting the virus is amplified every time a new guest walks though the door.
Restrictions on capacity means 75% less guests, 75% less booze poured and — very likely — 75% less in tips. Your server is working a lot harder to handle a fraction of their normal guest count, and they’re working with new tip-share structures to ensure everyone leaves with some cash at the end of the night.
Your long-awaited evening out has the potential to be something special for everyone involved. Chances are your server is committed to providing stellar service, but you need to understand that they’re working under a new set of conditions.
Be kind. And tip big.
Your servers are students, parents and entrepreneurs. They’re problem solvers and hustlers. They also rely on tips to feed their families, pay their rents and survive this crisis.
If you’re planning on going out tonight and can’t — or don’t want to — tip your servers somewhere around 100%, please stay home. You’re not doing them any favors. It’s easy to figure out a 100% tip: take the total on your check and double it. Then walk away knowing you did the right thing.
Be kind. Be gracious. Show your servers how much you appreciate them by making sure they leave with fat pockets.
They’ve been waiting to take care of you. Now it’s your turn to take care of them.
So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.