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Three Calgary restaurant experiences: What you could expect when you go out

Editors note: Three of our summer journalists went out last weekend and each had different – but similar – experiences. We asked them to recount what they saw in their travels as Calgary unwinds from the grip of coronavirus.

Isaiah Lindo – Ricky’s – No mints?

As COVID-19 restrictions began to lift, the urge to make a return back to normal life was something I desperately needed in my day-to-day life.

What better way to do than go out to eat at a restaurant again. My girlfriend and I went to our local Ricky’s diner so I could get some well-deserved pancakes.

Upon entering, the environment felt as if it was rigorously sanitized in anticipation, yet the place was empty. The tables had blue tape, in an X shape to indicate social distancing, it was less comforting then I expected.

Because there was no one there our food came exceptionally quick and the quality was great, but it wasn’t the same. The server brought everything to us individually, from forks and knifes to what jam we wanted on our toast.

The most devastating part was those small mints in a basket at the front of the restaurant were no longer there. I loved taking a few of those on my way out, It’s a little thing but it hit me that they are gone.

The atmosphere had changed. I think that might be the biggest result from this lockdown. Even though bars and restaurants will open up again the “vibe” has changed.

The repercussions of that might be too much for the industry to take. I think people will go out again but it seems like it won’t be like it was for a long time.

Madasyn Kost‘s 17 Avenue adventure

On Saturday, I ventured down to 17 Avenue SW with some friends in search of a patio and a cold drink.

Our first stop was at Trolley 5 whose patio was extended past the sidewalk and took over its neighbouring storefronts. The wait for the patio was an hour so we decided to go elsewhere.

We came across the new restaurant Comery Block and stood with the other people who had crowded around the doorway. We weren’t sure where the line started so my cousin went inside to ask. A man sat us inside while we waited for a table outside. Upon entering the restaurant, he sprayed our hands with a sanitizer out of a large spray bottle.

The floors had arrows pointing to in certain directions, however, not everyone was following them.

Once our table was ready, we were brought our laminated menus and our waters out to a picnic table on the sidewalk.

All staff wore black masks, which covered their mouths. For the most part, service was normal.

The server asked us for our orders and brought our drinks out as normal. Two of us ordered meat, which is typically brought with bottles of BBQ sauce. Due to the new safety regulations, the sauces were put in small to-go containers and dropped off at the table.

Once a table had left, the staff would spray the entire bench with the sanitizer and wipe it down. Unfortunately, it was a windy day and the spray blew over to our table a few times. The benches were placed next to one another. It wasn’t every second table as some places have been doing.

Debit machine was soaking wet

The 17 Avenue strip was super busy, with large crowds walking down the street due to the sidewalks being used for extra seating.

After leaving Comery Block we headed over to Blanco where a friend had ordered a pitcher of margaritas to share. Our glasses were laid out at each of our seats. The two menus on the table were small white pieces of paper. The staff at Blanco also wore masks.

At the end of the night when it was time to pay, I remember touching the debit machine and it was soaking wet. Our server said it was constantly wet now because they are spraying it down with sanitizer.

Overall, the day felt pretty normal; the patios were packed with people. The roads were filled with people on scooters.

I did see police walking around throughout the day, once in the afternoon at Comery and then again at Trolley 5 and Blanco. They came into Blanco walked around the patio and then left.

Cassie Jamieson – Boston Pizza

My family and I had decided to go out on Saturday night for dinner at Boston Pizza in Crowfoot. We pulled up into the parking lot and there were significantly more cars there than I expected.

I had been to this parking lot before restaurants opened, as there is a liquor store right across the street from Boston Pizza and the parking lot had never been this full before now.

Walking up to the front door I noticed three red lines of tape on the ground and signs in the windows that told customers of all the new rules and regulations about being in the restaurant and reminders of physical distancing.

Up until now, things were going as I thought they would. Signs in windows, lines and stickers on the ground. But when we would go to Boston Pizza for dinner before the pandemic started, the waiting area would be full of families with screaming kids not sitting still.

This time, there was only one Skip-The-Dishes driver sitting on the benches waiting for his order.

My mom, brother and I went to sit down with my grandfather, who had shown up minutes before us. On the edge of the table was a sign with a thumbs-up printed on it saying “this table has been sanitized, can be occupied.”

The next booth over had a sign that promoted social distancing.

Drink menus on hold

Everything on the table was already set up. Cutlery and napkins were set aside on a clean plate and the menus were neatly placed in a fan formation on the table. They had changed their menu to paper to allow the staff to recycle the menus and not do constant sanitization.

There was no drink menu. Our waitress said she could bring one over but they weren’t supposed to be giving them out because of the sanitization issues. The liquor selection was also quite small. I ordered a Corona at first (yes, I know, ironic) but they had all run out, so I got a Bud Light.

There were two tables occupied on their patio and then our booth. Another man and his friend came in later and sat down for a beer. One person came in to eat as we were leaving.

However, there were still takeout orders and Skip-The-Dishes guys who came in to pick up food while we were there.

It was a weird feeling of being almost the only ones in the entire restaurant. We were definitely the biggest group that showed in the time we were there.

Our waitress, who had to wear a mask, was really friendly and was great at asking all the questions my grandfather had for her. This was only her second shift and she agreed that it was a little weird.

Going out to a restaurant was not as stressful as going out to grocery stores, where no one listens to the rules, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to go to another restaurant anytime soon.