Empty Chairs at Empty Tables




Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friend will sing no more.

Les Miserables

Sometimes accidents happen. We really didn't plan to do it, but when it hit us in the face, we just went ahead and did.

Barb and I used to be semi-foodies. We never took pictures of our restaurant meals and post them, but we did have a line-up of favorite places to go multiple times a week, as well as a line-up of special places to go on special occasions. I would scour the Tribune and Chicago Magazine for hot new places to try. It was a major part of our social life.

COVID has changed all that--though we love the alternative of having friends and family having socially distanced celebrations on our back deck. We have dined in the parking lot of Wildfire twice, but other than that, restaurant dining has been limited to carry-outs once or twice a week, including treating our granddaughters with Superdawg every now and then (Fact-check: We like Superdawg more than our granddaughters do.)

Yesterday I had the morning off and Barb suggested breakfast outside at Walker Brothers in Lincolnshire, one of our favorite haunts in the "old days." We arrived at the nearly empty parking lot, noticing lots of tables set up on the patio and under the trees. We were cut off by the hostess who asked us if we wanted to eat inside or outside with a caveat "If you eat outside you will hate it, the bees are terrible. We have lots of room inside, you will be safe."

Barb and I looked at each other and pondered the situation.  We were craving a good WB breakfast, but why take unnecessary chances? We debated while the hostess politely turned away. Finally, we decided the food would be no more dangerous inside than out, the seating areas were pretty empty, and we would have our masks on 90% of the time. "What the hell, let's go for it," I finally said.

And so we did. I had my bacon waffle, Barb her Healthy Start Breakfast. Service was a bit spotty, perhaps the waitress wanting to make sure we didn't feel crowded. The food was good and we got our caffeine kick-starts (coffee for Barb, tea for me)  but surrounded by so many empty tables the feeling just wasn't the same.  Everything was still very different.

Will we do it again soon? I don't think so. While we decided we didn't regret our choice of entering the restaurant, the risk, however minimal, may have outweighed the reward. And like everything we do during this craziness, that's the decision we need to make every time. Even at our favorite restaurant.


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photo credit: arbyreed Empty via photopin (license)

Filed under: COVID, dining

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