As more and more things start to open up around town, we want to know what people think of this new normal.
We checked in with Andy, a local man who recently returned to a favorite Costa Mesa restaurant for a meal, and Chelsie, a server at Newport Beach favorite, Gulfstream. Here is what they had to say:
Andy, Restaurant Patron
NMM: When and where did you go out to eat?
ANDY: I had a late lunch at Avila’s El Ranchito on Placentia in Costa Mesa on Friday the 29th.
NMM: Did you make reservations or drop in?
ANDY: Dropped in.
NMM: How many people were in your group?
ANDY: Two of us.
NMM: Was it crowded?
ANDY: We were on the patio. It did not “feel” crowded, but most tables were in use, and several turned while we were there for a long lunch.
NMM: Did you wear a mask when you were not eating?
NMM: Did the wait staff wear masks?
NMM: Were you comfortable?
ANDY: Absolutely, very.
NMM: How long were you there?
ANDY: ~90 minutes
NMM: Did you eat inside or outside?
NMM: Would you do it again?
ANDY: It is a restaurant I frequent with my wife, but typically for dinner. Logistics made it a good choice for this lunch with a friend. I do not typically eat out in that area at lunchtime. I will make it a point to return for dinner soon.
NMM: Did you have any concerns?
NMM: What do you think they did a great job of?
ANDY: Acting authentic and natural, and serving great food in a pleasant setting for a reasonable price.
NMM: Anything else you want to mention?
ANDY: I’ve been eating there for 28 years and have never had a bad meal. And we need to get out there and support our local restaurants in person. People’s economic futures depend on it.
NMM: What other local restaurants do you want to go to next?
ANDY: Moulin (on Bristol), Eat Chow and Filomena’s (I have used them for take out and it was great.)
NMM: Thanks Andy!
Photo Credit: Avila’s El Ranchito, Filomena’s
NMM: Where do you work and in what capacity?
CHELSIE: I am a Server at Gulfstream, where I have been for 12 years in July.
NMM: When did Gulfstream open back up for dine-in service?
CHELSIE: We opened up the Saturday before Memorial Day! We were open during Quarantine for take-out and curbside pick-up, and then we got the word from the County and State we could open. Memorial weekend was BUSY, and it was a BIG adjustment.
NMM: How have things changed?
CHELSIE: We had to strategically close certain tables, and purposely make sure guests sat in specific chairs to allow proper spacing. We could only seat parties of 2, so if 4, even 3 people came in together, they had to sit at two different tables! However, this last Saturday we were able to start seating tables with 3 people!! All Management, Servers and Chefs are required to wear masks, but guests are not. We are not able to allow guests to sit at the bar, but we have five tall bar tables in our bar area they can sit at. We do not have a Bartender in the main bar, only Service Bartenders making drinks the Servers are ringing in. No guest can come up to a Bartender to order a drink. At Gulfstream, we have two patio areas – one side is for dining, and the back patio is for drinks and appetizers only, where smoking is allowed. The Bar Patio has two fire pits with Adirondack chairs and small tables, the Dining Patio has one fire pit, tall tables all around it, and overhead white lights for a beautiful ambiance! Both patios have heaters on them.
NMM: Do people need to make reservations, or can they just show up?
CHELSIE: We are taking limited reservations and also allowing for walk-ins! The wait time can get up to two hours, but we take a phone number to text you when your table is ready. You can walk around the shopping plaza or enjoy a drink while you wait. There are also a few small tables and chairs out front of the restaurant while you wait.
NMM: Any menu changes?
CHELSIE: We have an Oyster Bar with 6 seats, but that is still closed. Our menu is all day and slightly limited right now, but we have added and altered some items that are REALLY good!! We are not offering desserts at this time, hopefully that will change soon, haha! Oh, and we are still doing take-out and curbside pick-up!!
NMM: What is the mood like?
CHELSIE: Being “back at it” definitely feels good!! People are so happy to be out dining in a restaurant and just talking to others!!! We have some amazing regular guests, and it has been wonderful to see them!
NMM: So much has changed. What is the hardest part of your job now?
CHELSIE: I’d say the hardest thing for all of us working has been wearing a mask. To be honest, it makes running around the restaurant about 10x harder!! It is really hard to catch a breath, and even remember to stay hydrated…by the end of a shift, you are just exhausted physically. A lot of Servers are working doubles because we are short staffed due to people not coming back for one reason or another, or still being out of town. Even though we are running with about half the capacity, until we have more staff back, people will have to continue to work double shifts.
NMM: Anything you want to pass on?
CHELSIE: Please come down and dine with us SOON!!!
NMM: Thanks Chelsie!
Photo Credit: Chelsie, Gulfstream