Masked employees, more alfresco dining and continued curbside pick-up.
Those are just some aspects of how dining might function at the Jersey Shore during the much different summer ahead.
Anticipating necessary changes to restaurant operations and hearing from owners, Long Beach Township recently adopted emergency regulations and restrictions.
A paramount feature is allowing restaurant owners to create or expand outdoor seating — subject to plan submission and approval — and the township to adjust the maximum permitted occupancy to comply with state and federal social distancing guidelines. Temporary structures, such as tents and awnings, are permitted.
The measure also allows restaurants to expand outdoor seating onto sidewalks, provided restaurants allow six feet of space for pedestrians, and any parking lots under ownership, subject to township approval.
The township order becomes effective once Gov. Phil Murphy allows restaurants to offer in-person dining.
North Wildwood and Wildwood adopted similar regulations to maximize opportunities for restaurant owners.
Last month, Murphy mused about restaurant operators checking patrons’ temperatures, filling dining rooms up to 50% capacity, spacing tables, frequently sanitizing and requiring servers to wear gloves and masks.
These protocols are similar to requirements in China, where a study in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal detailed how numerous diners were infected with coronavirus due to an air conditioning unit blowing droplets from an asymptomatic patient.
It’s not yet known if the state will prescribe regulations for in-person dining.
For restaurant owners who previously operated in a lean fashion and on a majority takeout basis before the pandemic, this summer could give them an edge.
Jacqueline Vargas, owner of Sáfu Sushi in Ocean County’s Lavallette, says the seasonal business, which opened last summer, already operated on an 85% takeout basis, without full service or indoor seating.
“It will just be made and one sushi chef running production with ServSafe standards in and out, along with masked and gloved delivery people doing doorstep drop-off and providing no-contact placement into vehicles for pick-up,” she said.
Vargas added that her old normal “eases” her transition into the new normal.