Dining Outside in Metro Manila During GCQ

I was privileged to take some time-off from work last week to celebrate another year in my life with most of the people I cherish. Unlike the previous years where I get to visit some new places to unwind, this year, due to pandemic, I spent most of my days at home working on some home projects and playing with my nieces.

On the day of birthday, I just ordered food from Bellas Comfort Food, which is through Instagram. Since we are all very satisfied with their food, this has been our go-to for ordering bulk take outs. We were glad that they never fail us.

I baked my own Birthday Cake. Haha!

Few days after my birthday, I heard in the news that some restaurants are finally allowed again for dining in - but on a limited number and as long as they follow required safety protocols. And since I was bored at home and I thought that I somehow need some “me time”, I initially went to Starbucks.

Dining Alone

When I went to Starbucks prior to approval of Dine-in regulation, it will take a few minutes  before I got inside their store. The safety precautions they implement was pretty tedious, including manually writing your information details for customer tracing.

In my recent visit, they already have QR code, which you can easily scan using your smartphones and will direct you to an online form to submit your personal information along with your body temperature upon entering the store. Not only this saves a lot of time, this also protects their guests' personal details from other people who will visit their store and the chance of touching or holding some other things that might be virus-carrier.

Staying inside the store is also limited, hence you will notice that unlike before, store are still less crowded and service is faster.

Samgyup with Sister

During the ECQ, our family, who love having samgyupsal, bought a personal griller and ordered ready-to-cook Korean–flavored meats for our consumption. I must admit that it was much cheaper than eating outside, but the preparation, and after dining experience was scary with tons of utensils and cups and plates to wash. Hahaha! Nobody wants to wash dishes when everyone is so full. 

Gladly, the Romantic Baboy near our place opened its doors for diners after the government granted restaurants of limited operations. Unlike before, you have to make reservation prior to enjoying Korean-style dining. You have to submit headcount and all the names of people who will go with you. Just like other restaurants, Romantic Baboy implemented one person per table. Given that most griller in their store is in a table good for four, only two persons are allowed per set, with one table apart from the other customer. This was quite convenient for the two us. But one thing that I noticed, since their manpower is limited, when we arrived at their store, they don’t have personnel at the door who checks our temperature, even get our personal information for tracing. They do have a disinfectant mat and alcohol available, but it’s more of self-service and I don’t think that’s enough. They have to be strict about these protocols.

I hope they’ll do something about it because, getting the virus is no joke. This is not only for their customers but also for their staff.

Dinner Treat with Superfriends

To complete my birthday celebration at home, I and my Superfriends (high school barkada), decided to eat out also during my birthday week – this time at Shakey’s and Denny’s in Robinsons Place Manila.

We were lucky that when we visited Shakey's that time, they have an available long row of table that can accommodate five persons with one seat apart. This is a good chance for us to still dine together in one row while practicing the required social distancing. 

Upon entry at the store, we were required to fill-up their Customer Tracing Forms, which include personal data and body temperature. We have to write it down in this tiny paper using their provided ballpens, which kinda took quite a while and created some health risks because we don't know who used the ballpens prior to us - and I don't think they disinfected those pens the same way they disinfect their tables, chair or even floors. Good thing hand sanitizers were provided as well upon entry - so, yeah, sanitize your hands always.

We ordered our usual favorites, and after some minutes of waiting our food came. Nobody informed us that they will not put it in our table, so our orders were on the service trays for quite a while. We thought they are still completing our orders before they serve it to us, but we were wrong. But that's okay, we learned our lesson, but I hope they should at least remind their customers about this "new normal" - that customers have to get their ordered food from the service tray that they'll put beside them.

The whole dining experience was pleasant and happy, because after three months of being in quarantine, that was the first time we've seen each other - and that was the longest time we've been apart. Haha! The staff displayed a good distance and less contact to their customers, which we really admired.

For our dinner that night, we were happy to know that Denny's, which is a Bistro Group Restaurant, is finally open in Robinsons Place Manila. We love dining at Bistro Group Restaurant, because aside form the ambiance, their food are always great.

Upon entering the store, we were welcomed by their staff who took our body temperature. They already have a spot for the seven of us, which is also a long row of table in the corner, so we went directly to it. Upon sitting, the staff who took our body temperature gave us a printed Customer Tracing Form, with our body temperature written on it. All we need to do is fill it up with our personal information.

As we finished filling up our forms, they handed us a sign with a QR code which would direct us to their online menu. As they told us, we just need to tick the boxes of our orders, as well as the branch where were and they'll automatically confirm our orders upon receipt. That's one huge less personal contact between staff and customers - something that other restaurants should also consider. 

Inside the store, there were a lot of reminders about social distancing and safety tips as well. Their washroom were also kept clean and well-replenished with soap and tissue. Aside from face mask, their staff are also wearing face shield, which the previous stores we've visited don't have or not all of them wear it.

For our food, as expected, everything was delish and filling. It was one dining experience that we thought so convenient and safe all throughout, which made us think to visit other Bistro Group Restaurant again this coming weekend.

This crisis and this "new normal" might make sometime. While we are all adjusting to this new protocols, may we always keep in mind the safety of ourselves and our loved ones at home, who still cannot enjoy the world outside.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone. 

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