Ah, a new year. Let’s embrace it while we still can’t embrace those we love.
It’s a new year, but it’s also just another Friday, and we’re still in a pandemic. More people are getting those “I Voted” look-alike stickers that say they’ve gotten the vaccine, but it appears we’re a long way off from everyone having that privilege.
And our restaurants are still in precarious spots, still pivoting, still trying to keep the lights on while trying to follow protocols to keep patrons safe.
And in that new state, there’s a lot to miss.
For this writer, it’s feeling comfortable in an elevator of a downtown building, walking down Main Street to the Joule, getting an Americano from Weekend and sitting down in the beautiful lobby area to work and people-watch. That Americano can still happen, but watching interesting fashion choices isn’t worth the risk involved with loitering these days.
That's just one person's opinion, of course. Here’s what more important people (industry professionals and readers) had to say about what they’re most missing from their neighborhood spots.
“Being able to go into any restaurant, without concern about how crowded it is or how close together the tables are. Do they have a patio? Is the weather nice enough for a patio? Is my favorite local spot still open?” — Amanda Scott
“The energy in a busy restaurant. You can feel it, even as a patron. And I miss just sitting with friends and enjoying a wonderful meal. Meals are more than sustenance for the stomach. They are sustenance for the soul.” — Erin Jett of Humble pie
“Actually seeing the smile on my server or bartender’s face.” — Traci Mitchell
“The social aspects of it, of course. I miss getting to see our friends on a regular basis, hanging out and spending time with people we love in our favorite restaurants, eating, drinking, dining and lingering over a truly exceptional meal. I really miss dessert (it’s not the same to go), and also let’s not forget about people watching.” — Beverly Marple
“I miss going in the back door to the kitchen and seeing chef friends twice a week…” — Jeff Bednar of Profound Foods
“Shoot s..t with bartenders at the Gemma.” — Eugene Plyako
“Just being out in the city. The vibe of places like Louie's on a Friday night. I can take out the pizza, and I can make the martini at home, but it's not nearly the same. I don't live in the city for the peace and quiet.” — Norman Alston
“I miss going to our customers’ places and tasting the magic they made with our pork.” — Karyn Medders
“Honestly, not much besides maybe some more predictability in our business. 2020 exposed many of our flaws, we all had to make a lot of self-reflection, check our ego and innovate. The outpour of love from customers and peers has been incredible and I am grateful for that.” — Julien Eelsen of Whisk Crepes Cafe
“The confidence of having a career. Although I think that took some hits before COVID.” — Sommelier Aaron Benson
“My job.” — Jones Long (She was not the only one to say this.)
“Oysters, and a creative cocktail. And being able to see something delicious-looking on someone’s plate at another table that I wouldn’t have ordered that changes my mind.” — Lauren Berman
“I miss cheap margarita night on Fridays at Village Burger Bar in West Village. … I can get them to go now, but it's not at all the same, especially because you can't decide after each one whether you want another one.” — Rosie Curtis
“Going to one of three locally owned small places with fellow teachers for “attitude adjustment hour.” — Diane Birdwell
“Going to eat alone and sitting at the bar, elbow to elbow to other diners; chatting up a stranger or overhearing the awkward conversations of a first date.” — Amanda Domaschk
“Chicken wings. I love to eat wings but the thing with wings is they are really only good hot and freshly cooked. I miss sitting at Angry Dog with that slight sewage smell in the air while devouring some hot wings with that extra hot sauce for dipping and fries. I can’t possibly order them to go because I don’t want to ruin the memory. So let’s hurry up and get vaccinated so I can go to Angry Dog and eat like 700 wings to make up for lost time!” — Veronica Young
“White table service and a great wine list.” — Dale Lewis
“My friend and I were just talking about how we miss going to a Mexican restaurant and getting too full on chips and salsa before our food even gets to the table. Like, yeah, I can eat a bag of tortilla chips at home, but it's not the same.” — Rebecca Sharpe Baker
“I miss pub trivia. It creates an atmosphere of community even in a bar full of strangers.” — Julie Malcom
“...I miss the feeling of not having to tell grown adults to wear their mask when we have signs about it everywhere. And I absolutely miss being able to drink and not needing to take Zoloft to cope with these things I miss.” — bartender Jessica Haibon
“Seeing the staff at my bar not worry about getting sick, not struggle to pay their bills, see our customers come back and be able to order from the bar and get the full social experience we all miss dearly.” — MJ Honea
“Having such a good time eating great food, having a drink and getting lost in conversation that you lose track of time and end up home hours later than you anticipated. You can do a zoom dinner or a phone call but the clock is ever-present and bringing you back to reality and responsibilities.” — Megan Malone
“The steaks, sides and desserts at Pappas Brothers Steakhouse in Dallas and Wade the amazing server who made our experience perfect Every. Single. Time.” — Regina Harrison
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