As you know, the governor has approved most Maine restaurants to open, but, speaking as a restaurant employee, we won't be opening as "business as usual." There are a lot of significant changes the owners and employees must adhere to, but there are also a lot of changes customers must abide by and understand, too.

Granted, when it comes to cleanliness and being sanitary, I can't imagine there are restaurants that don't require washing and disinfecting kitchens, dining rooms, bathrooms, etc., on a daily basis. The items on the “cleaning checklist” are common practice — ask any servers who do their side work. But operationally things will be much different, such as the number of tables allowed to be used, staggering staff shifts and/or break times, discouraging waiting lines, counting and maintaining the number of customers in the establishment, inside and out, and diners — including children — staying in their seats.

Because of all of these changes the restaurant world must implement, I feel it's really important that people who don't work in restaurants know their responsibilities when dining in Maine this summer.

We will need to have a name and phone number for at least one person per table, should we need to contact them for tracing purposes. We would never use that information in any other way, but customers need to be aware we're required to have it.

Most restaurants with a bar will need to limit the number of customers or omit the bar seats altogether. Customers may have be asked to have their temperature taken or may be required to use face masks until seated. Customers cannot wait in long lines for the restrooms or to enter the restaurant.

Customers are discouraged from letting their children out of their seats. Because of the limited number of tables we're allowed to have, customers may not be able to dine when they want and are encouraged to make reservations.

Restaurants will have to keep windows open as much as possible for a fresh air flow; customers may get chilly.

And please, be patient and kind. These guidelines are very new for restaurants and it will take a bit of time to get into a new operating routine. Restaurant employees are going to do the very best we can — while making considerably less money — to ensure customers have a nice time, a fantastic meal and know we are doing whatever it takes to keep them safe.

Visit for a five-page list of requirements for Maine restaurants for the foreseeable future. Before dining out, please take a moment to review these guidelines that pertain not only to restaurants but our customers.

Jen Chapman is on the board of the Maine Lobster Festival, has been chairwoman of the Lobster Festival Parade, and has worked at the Slipway Restaurant in Thomaston and at Rhumb Line on the water in Camden.

Supported by: Ada’s Kitchen, Archer’s on the Pier, Brass Compass, Cafe Miranda, The Eclipse Restaurant, Hills Seafood Co., Home Kitchen Café, The Landings, North Beacon Oyster, Primo, The Slipway, Rhumb Line, Rustica, Thomaston Café, Trackside Station, In Good Company, and The Waterworks Restaurant & Pub.


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