Meals at the dinner table have always brought families together. While we provide nourishment to keep our bodies healthy, conversations with our loved ones keep us connected.

 Everyone who knows me knows that my husband, Jeff, and I enjoy going out to dinner after a long day at work and we often go out with our closest friends. I don’t know why but a salad always tastes better when someone else makes it. Jeff and I are good cooks, but our dining out is more about socializing with our empty-nester friends.

 The last time Jeff and I went out to dinner was Sunday, March 15. News of the coronavirus was worsening but nothing was shut down yet. We sat at the bar at The Laundry and caught up on the news with a couple of our favorite bartenders. They were nervous, wearing gloves and constantly cleaning their area. None of us knew what would happen next. We enjoyed our lunch and coffee and went on our way.

 Within days, businesses were forced to close their doors, including all of the restaurants in our rotation.

 Because restaurants provided food they were deemed essential, however, dining in was and is still prohibited. Since the shutdown, we have continued to patronize several restaurants in the area, first for our benefit, and secondly to help ensure that they will survive the economic toll due to this virus. We want them to open and thrive as soon as it’s safe.

 Just like the rest of us, food preparers at restaurants are worried of becoming infected and infecting someone else. Despite that worry, they show up to work, take the necessary precautions and continue preparing our favorite entrees. My husband and I watch for restaurant specials in the Times and we signed up for text alerts to see what dinner will be that particular day. Right now the only thing different is that we pick up our meal curbside and have a quiet meal at home.

 We are so impressed with how these businesses and their employees have adapted to the pandemic and their determination to do what they do. I’ve seen some social media posts of people debating whether we should be tipping for takeout. What? To me, this is not up for debate. We look at these people wearing facemasks and gloves and running out to our car as friends and warriors. Tip accordingly.

 Fortunately, based on the number of places Jeff called to order a Mother’s Day dinner, we are not the only ones who are placing orders and keeping our restaurants in business.

 I’ll touch on my appreciation for more essential workers in my next column.

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