Dining Out during the Covid-19 Pandemic

On Friday, March 20th, all in-restaurant dining was shutdown by Governor Ron DeSantis as a way to slow the spread of Covid-19. Local restaurants were only allowed to do take-out or delivery service for foreseeable future. For some, this was a death sentence because most mom & pop restaurants run on very thin margins to begin with and if they cannot fill their dining rooms, their profitability would take a serious nose dive. As a restaurant food blogger, this also affected me greatly and my business came to a screeching halt.

As most restaurants were left reeling and wondering what to do, some closed their doors temporarily and laid off their workers, while others did their best to stay open and keep serving their customers. Our small community came together and did what they could to help. From getting take-out several times a week, to Facebook group admins compiling lists of who was open for take out, to restaurants that did not see to much of a drop in business because they were already doing take-out donating a portion of their profits one day a week to help those restaurant workers in need. #barbuckschallenge One trend that I didn’t see coming were restaurants opening mercantile stores. While the local grocery stores were running out of certain essential items, restaurant owners were still able to procure these critical supplies from their purveyors and sell them directly to consumers.

Fast forward to 45 days later, Governor Ron DeSantis has finally eased restrictions to now allow only 25% capacity for in-restaurant dining with strict sanitation and social distancing protocols. Unfortunately, during the 45 day shutdown, Vero did lose a few restaurants that I’m aware of at the time of writing this article. Prima Pizza & Pasta, The Patio Seafood Tavern, and Urban Bricks to name just a few have closed their doors for good.

With the new 25% capacity restriction in place, I thought it would be a good time to get out and see for myself how the restaurant landscape has changed and report on my findings to help you decide if you want to venture out yet or not. My birthday was last week and I’ve been craving the coconut rice from Ono Luau, so my wife and I decided to pay them a visit.

Co-Owner, Dave Bedford wears a mask to keep his customers safe

As we entered the restaurant, we were directed to sit at any table we felt comfortable at. All tables had been sanitized and were properly spaced 6 ft apart and everyone was practicing social distancing. My friend and owner, Dave Bedford greets us to take our drink order.

We ordered a Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter, a Blue Hawaiian, and he brought out a new drink called the Surfertini for us to try! They were all so good!

Taro chips are included with your orders and they brought out the Spam Musubi for us to try. Think of it as “Hawaiian Style Sushi”!

Hawaiian Pu-Pu Platter – NOT A MENU ITEM

Because it was my birthday and Chef Zak wanted me to try a few of their new menu items, he made up this Pu-Pu Platter for me so I could try them. On the left is fresh tuna sashmi flown in fresh from Hawaii. Next up is a new dish called Mochiko Chicken. At the top right is a Breadfruit Hummus served with Breadfruit chips, and the bottom right is thinly sliced beef short ribs glazed in house-made teriyaki sauce.

So what’s the verdict? My wife and I felt totally safe in this environment. There were at least 4 other tables there with us that night and everyone kept their distance. As for the restaurant’s sanitation procedures, any staff member coming in contact with customers will be wearing masks, all tables, chairs, and menus are wiped down between customers and they do wear gloves when bring your food & drinks. I also believe there is less risk when dining outside rather than inside, so if a restaurant has an outdoor patio, I would highly recommend you sit outside if possible.

As the restrictions start to ease up more, do you plan to venture out and dine in again anytime soon? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, so sound off in the comments below.

Written by Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller, aka “The Treasure Coast Foodie” and “The Foodie Guy” is big on organic everything and very particular about his butter. He has reviewed over 150+ local restaurants in the last 5 years and is invited by Disney to review the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival every year. His food photos are devoured by 10’s of thousands monthly on The Treasure Coast Foodie website and as a Google Maps Local Guide, his photos have been viewed over 20 million+ times. His foodie tribe is over 14,000+ people right here on the Treasure Coast.