Here we are, on the supposed other side of the pandemic. Are we better for it? Or worse? Have things changed? Or stayed the same? Will we, in our rush back to “normal,” remember all that we learned during the pandemic? Or, as dining rooms fill and rents rocket back up, will the experience fade like a road trip where you forgot to take in the view?
For many, these last 15 months have been paralyzing and sad; they have brought out the very best and the very worst in humanity. But this—this—is the space in which we grow. This is where we mine the darkness for light and fortitude. This is where we find the glimmer of opportunity. Our cover story, “After the Flood,” explores the very notion of taking stock, picking up the pieces, and claiming the new. The experience of rebuilding is both shared across the industry and managed individually—just like the pandemic itself. We have collectively endured but we singularly work to get to the other side.
This paradox has ushered in, of all things, a new era of customer service. Forced to the front lines, restaurant workers discovered the newfound (if uncomfortable) ability to say no. With “A Line in the Sand,” operators discuss what the new hospitality looks like and why it’s the only way forward.
As I write this, mask mandates and distancing restrictions are falling away and we are entering an exciting but uncomfortable space—yet another dichotomy to navigate. Yes, “normal” is returning, but not everyone is on the same page. Some—even those who are fully vaccinated—feel more comfortable behind a mask. Others have flung theirs aside and marched straight into crowded spaces. Both are correct responses; both will irk the other. In this strange time (following the strangest time) in our history, we urge you to remember what it felt like to come together to save an industry, one restaurant, one human, at a time.
Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to firstname.lastname@example.org.