With restaurants reopening in the Hudson Valley this week many people will be rushing out to regain a sense of normalcy. But, before you decide to sit down at a table and peruse a menu, there are seven important things you should keep in mind.

Expectations
Yes, restaurants are reopening, but it's certainly not business as usual. Local restaurant owners were taken off guard by the sudden announcement that outdoor seating would now be allowed as part of phase two. They've been scrambling to find staff, reorganize their operations and prepare for the onslaught of customers who will all be in competition for limited space.  Don't expect things to run smoothly. Be prepared for lots of hiccups and mistakes.

Order all at once
Don't be one of those people who is constantly calling your server over to ask for things. In many cases, waitstaff will need to travel significantly farther between your table and the kitchen. Try to anticipate everything you'll need at once. Sending your server back for ketchup, more napkins, extra sauce or anything else that hits you on a whim isn't fair to them and will only slow up service for everyone else.

Kids
If you have kids that can't be controlled, leave them at home. Seriously. With everyone doing their best to stay socially distant, this isn't the time for your children to be running around a restaurant. Wait times are going to be long and you'll probably be sitting at your table without food for a while before you eat. If you don't think your kids can handle it, you should probably wait a while before bringing them back to a restaurant situation.

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No need to comment on your server's mask
Yes, you are going to have to wear a mask when you're not sitting at your table. And yes, your server is going to have to wear a mask during their whole shift. No matter what you think about masks, no one is going to be in the mood to hear your opinion one way or another. Believe me, your server knows he or she is wearing a mask. You don't need to keep bringing it up or joking about it. Let your server do their job and save your brilliant viewpoints about facemasks for your dining companions.

Make sure you're healthy and wash your hands
Your server is wearing a mask to protect you, but they're in the tough position of having to be in the presence of multiple tables of unmasked customers all night. If you aren't feeling well, stay home. In order to show respect to your server, make sure you're practicing proper social distancing with them, wash your hands and follow any instructions they give you without arguing. Having respect for your server and fellow customers should be your first priority when eating out.

Don't Linger
With restaurants at limited capacity, this is not the time to sit at your table for hours. Order, eat your food and when you're finished just pay your check and leave. It's not fair to linger any longer and clog up a table that could be used for paying customers. Many restaurants will be enforcing time limits for this reason. Don't hassle them if they ask you to leave. Again, this is not business as usual. You don't have to go home, but when your meal is finished you should be courteous enough to move your conversation elsewhere without having to be asked.

Tip
This goes without saying, but if you're going to be among the first people to take advantage of restaurant dining, you really need to show your gratitude by tipping generously. Your servers have most likely been out of work for a while. If you have the money to go out to dinner, you have an obligation to support the staff by leaving a tip of at least 20 percent. As I said earlier, there are going to be problems with your order, slow service and other hiccups. This isn't your server's fault. Deducting from your tip due to slow service is pretty messed up. In fact, the more obstacles your server faces during your meal should increase the percentage you leave, not lower it.

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