Commentary: Missing The Restaurant Experience

It’s funny (not funny), my hubby asked me the other day, “Do you remember the last restaurant we dined at before all of this happened?” Such a seemingly innocent question struck me like a poisoned arrow through my heart. I paused before answering, not because I didn’t remember, but thinking back to that night; it’s like a moment frozen in time now.

An immediate feeling of melancholy washed over me. To think what was such a routine part of our lives, the sheer act of going out to eat, has now become a bittersweet memory, and we do not know when we will be able to experience it again. With our lives altered and still so much uncertainty, I can’t help but feel bereft. I long for the activities that have always given me such pleasure. 

In the early days of the pandemic, when we were strongly encouraged to stay inside and avoid most contact with the outside world, I cracked a joke.

I shared it not caring if I would be ashamed for admitting that I don’t have a lot of hobbies besides eating and writing about eating. While eating is not technically a hobby, it’s a necessity of living, after all, it is my most passionate interest. I’m not afraid to say that dining out is one of my most favorite things to do! Always has been, ever since I was a kid in the early ‘80s.

Where I come from, there wasn’t a lot of great restaurants – mostly family-style restaurants, diners, and fast food joints. My family couldn’t afford to eat out often, but when we did, it was a treat and always made me happy. Some of my earliest memories of playing with my friends would be of us roleplaying as restaurant owners, chefs, and diners. Even back then, I’d write reviews and pretend I was a food critic! Hilarious.

Anyways, when I go out to eat, I’m not only doing it because I love to eat, I honestly enjoy the whole process of it. I genuinely believe that researching and selecting a restaurant, studying menus, and anticipating the restaurant experience increases my serotonin levels. It’s hard to explain but it really does bring me a lot of joy.

Naturally, I love eating, too. Furthermore, I love learning about food, cooking techniques, how restaurants operate, and what makes them successful. To me, though, eating is the catalyst for more intellectual curiosities such as where food comes from, food production, historical and cultural connections, and the part it plays in society. Restaurants are fascinating places!

As a consumer, I also dine out as much as possible because I love to support the community. Restaurants are small businesses that do more than provide sustenance and space to socialize, but they provide jobs and income for so many people. When I dine out and, mainly when I write about it, that is always at the forefront of my mind. Not only am I documenting my experience, but I’m endorsing the hard work by the people employed at those establishments. That is always so gratifying and one of the reasons I keep this blog going after almost 12 years!

So as much as I mourn my inability to do something I delight in, it grieves me to think of the people who lost their jobs and may not be able to get back to work in the foreseeable future. Sure, many restaurants are still open for curbside pickup and delivery, and there have been many resources available to those without jobs, but it is not the same. Empty dining rooms are helping prevent the spread of the virus, but it’s not preventing a lot of sadness. It’s okay to be sad, right?

So, when my hubby asked that simple question, even though I felt so bleak at that moment, I still have this platform to tell stories, and that comforts me. So, let’s stay home and ride this out, and tell stories together!

Do you have a story of positivity during this troublesome time? Let me know, and I will be happy to tell it.

Otherwise, tell me what you miss the most about going out to eat.

2 thoughts on “Commentary: Missing The Restaurant Experience

  1. I miss it a lot! I didn’t go out much during the week this last year after a change in jobs, but the weekend was a different story. My boyfriend would come down and we would go to one of our favorite places one day and then try something new the other day. It was something I looked forward to all week. I loved seeing familiar faces and new faces. Now I see no faces. <3

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