NewsABC.net / Lena Anzenhofer
Restaurants in Berlin have been allowed to reopen since last Friday – subject to strict conditions.
Waiters have to wear masks, as do customers walking through the restaurant.
Despite many weeks of closure, only a few guests are on site.
It is 6 p.m. and I take three pairs of shoes on and off. The choice falls on ballerinas and I already know that I will regret that later. In the end, I only made myself chic for the supermarket, but this evening takes going out to a new level: after a good two-month Corona break, restaurants in Berlin can reopen.
My favorite tapas bar in Berlin was closed until last Thursday. “The failed city”, and: “Then we’ll be gone soon,” emblazoned for a long time on the large window panes; an allusion to the fact that Berlin companies with more than ten employees do not receive emergency aid. But on that Friday evening, May 15th, they were there.
I am prepared. Small bags of salt and pepper have been in my wallet for a few days; after all, they are prohibited on the tables in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, for example. There is at least one mouthguard in each of my pockets. Disinfectant – antiviral, of course! – I have owned it ever since.
Reservations are not mandatory – but recommended
My friend and I wait in front of an almost empty restaurant. Exciting: we are placed. After endless evenings with food in front of the TV, I also like to wait five minutes. Then finally: “Have you made a reservation?” Asks an employee. “Yeah, sure,” I say a bit proudly and a little bit snapped, because that’s a matter of course. “Can we sit outside?” I ask, regretting thinking about my ballet flats.
In fact, reservations in Berlin are not mandatory, just as there is no ban on salt and pepper shakers. Visitors are only allowed to enter the restaurant alone or accompanied by people from their own or another household. Waiters must wear masks. There must be a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between the tables and chairs. It is recommended that a list is given which can be used to trace the chains of infection. The opening hours are limited to 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and laminated cards are on the tables with a QR code that leads to the menu: the customer can order online and have the food delivered to the table.
Delivery service, pre-orders and vouchers: the restaurant has reinvented itself
But we don’t sit for long, there are also two menus on the table. The waiter takes drinks orders, which takes a while: “Everything is still a little unusual, with the mask and such …”, he says and smiles apologetically. The mask swallows his voice. We smile back. Everyone understands.
The restaurant came up with alternatives to try to overcome the losing streak. Recently there is a delivery service, orders for collection, vouchers and pre-orders so that it does not take that long – they wish their guests to only stay 1.5 hours.
The on-site situation is a bit bizarre: the waiters with face masks, the manager with a visor. On the way through the restaurant, the customer also has to wear mouthguards, disinfect his hands beforehand and has to find his way through the waiters, and if necessary authorize them again: “Yes, please, do you want?” One of me asks with wide eyes when I’m on the way to the locations. “Um, I just want to go to the bathroom …” I stammer a little unsure. He looks at me. I look at him. He hadn’t recognized me.
After two hours, the spook is over again
The restaurant is gradually filling up – but not the way it was before Corona times. Otherwise there were several groups of visitors at one table, now everyone is sitting on their own.
Around 9 p.m. at least all the tables outside are occupied, but only a few inside. Occasionally guests come who only take out a glass of wine and stand in front of the restaurant; in the midst of pedestrians with shopping bags, people who walk up and down the street in a stylish way, who have a lively conversation. It almost seems as if nothing has ever happened.
But only half an hour later, the employees start clearing the tables, cleaning glasses and disinfecting tables. This restaurant must also close at 10 p.m. My feet are cold, my friend’s cigarette smoke is in the air. The streets empty again. It is Friday evening, just before 10 p.m. We had been allowed to sit there longer than we wanted. I want to go home.
7 little things that make your waiter hate you
A waiter unpacks
As a former waiter and bartender in New York, I can tell you that waiters are a bit like playing video games. There are several tables where you have to keep an eye on different tasks, there are bonuses for more plates you carry, and the later it gets, the more your energy level drops.
There are also difficult customers who need to be appeased. Apart from the particularly rude and particularly friendly customers, there are also those who think that they will not do any harm, but that they are in real trouble for their waiter.
Here are some things you didn’t know would make life difficult for your waiter.
You skip the presentation of the daily recommendations
You are not obliged to order the recommendation of the day, which is often simply a rewarding and convenient way for the restaurant to get rid of excess food. But your waiter is obliged to present them to you in detail so that you know what you might be missing. Often the waiter who has taken most of the daily recommendation orders will get a little something extra at the end of the evening. So give him a chance – maybe he can inspire you for the delicious ribs.
You call a waiter who is not responsible for your table
In some restaurants, every waiter is assigned an area in which they receive all tips. If you call in other waiters, they unjustly have to work harder than their colleagues. When there is a lot going on, it is difficult for the waiters to keep an overview. If you are not busy, ask another waiter to send your waitress to you.
Sean Gallup / GettyImages
Your tip is less than 15 percent
If you haven’t got a perfect service, don’t have enough money, or generally don’t tip heavily, your waiter will run into serious trouble for a low tip. A low tip could mean bad service for an employer. And if your waiter shares a tip with his colleagues, he has to explain to them why everyone’s bags are a little lighter at the end of the evening.
You keep correcting your order
Many dishes are pre-mixed or pre-marinated, so there is less space for special requests than you think. There is also little scope for pricing. Even if you receive less than stated in the original order, no discount can be guaranteed.
It is one thing if you order a variant with less fat, but if you order the fried chicken without chicken, the kitchen staff will be upset.
Paul Rysz / Flickr
You don’t read what’s on the menu
Always read the menu first if you have any food restrictions. If you only read the titles of the dishes and only find out that you are allergic to the contents of the dish when it has already been served, your waiter is the one to blame for the food waste. Incidentally, this is also the reason why it always takes so long to present the daily recommendations.
Flickr / Ian T. McFarland
You want all dishes to come at the same time
When four people order four starters, this is normal. If a large group orders starters, take-away pizzas, soups, salads and starters for the same time, the kitchen can no longer keep up. The kitchen staff will likely ask the waiter to split the order into several parts to create several courses so that you can get your food when it is still hot and there is more space on the table.
Johannes Simon / Getty
You stay too long
If you still sip your glass of water and ask the waiter for the card for the third time, the waiter may be under pressure to push you out soon. The host may already have given the table to someone else or reserved it for later. It may be time for you to switch to a bar.
dominique Bernardini / Flickr