It seems only natural that a city sandwiched between two rivers would be known for its dining scene. And not just Philadelphia’s most famous sandwich -- the cheesesteak -- but also award-winning restaurants, charming BYOBs where you can bring your own bottle, ethnic restaurants and much more.
How to Support Philly's Dining Culture
Philadelphia has become one of the hottest dining cities in the country. And here are tips on how we can help retain that status, even though restaurants are struggling with limited capacity.
Nearly every restaurant is open for outside dining and, hopefully soon, they will open for indoor dining (with limited capacity) too. Some restaurants doing it especially well are Suraya with its big, beautiful garden, as well as Barclay Prime and Vedge, whose corner locations enable them to put tables on smaller side streets rather than busier streets.
- Don’t linger. It will be very difficult for restaurants to survive with fewer seats. They need to turn tables. Order, eat/drink and go.
- Tip generously. With fewer tables, it’ll be hard for servers to make a living. Plus, their jobs put them at risk.
- Respect your server. Wear your mask when you order and when plates are being served and cleared.
- Over order. What are you doing tomorrow night? How about ordering more food, “to go”?
- Plan ahead. Try to minimize the times the server has to run in-and-out by asking for ketchup and water at the same time.
- Protect other guests. Wear a mask whenever you’re not eating or drinking.
- Don't be a spreader. Cough? sneeze? fever? Stay home.
- Go before you go. Try not to use the bathroom at the restaurant. If you do, mask up.
- Stay seated. Unless you absolutely have to go to the bathroom. And keep your kids seated too.
- Be patient. Everyone is learning a new process and trying to be careful. Be kind.
- Do your homework. Check the restaurant’s website and facebook page so you know whether you need to order in advance or if there are other rules to protect you and the staff. And check the menu so you can order quickly (see tip #1).
- Take dessert to go. In the spirit of not lingering (see tip #1), get dessert to go and eat it in the park on the way home.
- Hold the pickles. Special requests don’t typically upset restaurants, but a lot of changes/substitutions can be tough with limited staff.
- Don’t move. Tables or chairs, that is. Restaurants have arranged tables so patrons can social distance. Don’t rearrange them.
- Discover Mondays. Don’t save your dining for Saturday night. What’s in it for you? Fewer diners = more attention.
- Dine early. Help the restaurant seat as many people as possible by coming at 6 pm or earlier.
- Dine late. Try reservations at 8:30 or later. The restaurant can only seat so many tables at 7 or 8 pm. Coming later means they can seat more people.
Buy non-food items
Many restaurants are selling non-food items. Show your support and be an ambassador for your favorite place by wearing a t-shirt from Palizzi Social Club or a mask from McGillin’s Olde Ale House. Or buying gift certificate. Estia was offering a discount on gift certificates (when this story was published) and a Warmdaddy’s gift certificate provides dining and live jazz music.
- Buy gift certificates. Many restaurants are even offering a discount on gift certificates.
- Wait. Don’t spend gift certificates now. Give the restaurant time to get on stable financial footing again before using the certificates.
- Buy merchandise. Then be an ambassador for the restaurant by wearing t-shirts or sweatshirts on walks and during Zoom meetings.
- Be generous. Look for GoFundMe campaigns supporting restaurant staff.
- Shop for experiences. Buy one-of-a-kind experiences like hosting a cooking class or dinner party in your home with a chef.
Free Ways to Help
Do you love Michael Solomonov’s Lazer Wolf or get kick out of the social media accounts run by Lê, the one-named proprietor of Hop Sing Laundromat? Here are free ways to help them and other restaurateurs.
- Write reviews. Leave positive reviews for your favorite restaurants on Facebook, Google, Yelp & Trip Advisor.
- Don’t write reviews. Were things a little rough? Maybe cut the restaurant a break while they’re learning a new system. Think instead of the many times you’ve had great meals there and assume that in no time, it’ll be just like it used to be. And maybe better.
- Be Social. Help your favorite eatery spread its message. Like, re-tweet and share its social media posts.
Whether you’re in Philadelphia for a romantic weekend for two, family fun, a future convention or you live here, you’ll eat up the restaurant scene. And it we all work together, the restaurants will continue to flourish in the days ahead.