“I noticed a guy cleaning the surfaces, I assume they do it every time someone leaves. I don’t feel unsafe … they all seem to be doing the right thing.”
As I noted in my look at a reopened Cambridge Brewing Co. last week, with Step 1 of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan underway in Mass, a lot of attention is suddenly on restaurants now catering to outdoor clientele.
Wanting to check some out myself, I tapped into a few breweries that are able to sling pints and serve food in their patio spaces.
Many establishments not serving food, including breweries and bars, will have to wait until Phase 4 to reopen, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday. Several establishments that offer suds and have established kitchens, though, reopened last week with restrictions.
Planning ahead for a visit to Dorchester Brewing Company, I made a reservation last Tuesday for a table for two at lunchtime on Wednesday. A friend of mine agreed to join during his work break, so we figured that was the best way to go, and it seems that we were right. Reservations aren’t required, and ours cost $15 for two hours at a two-top, but it’s the way to go if you don’t want to wait. In the meantime, check out their website—it always shows how many heads are there out of the 152 allowed under the current capacity.
The experience was different than at Cambridge Brewing Co. Under its COVID 2020 updates, Dorchester Brewing has a list of eight things to keep in mind on its website, including a reminder to wear masks at all times, but what was new to us was the request that people use their smartphones to place orders.
Upon arrival, a guy in a mask asked us to place our IDs on a table in front of him, then went through a list of restrictions—again, masks at all times except when at your table, no standing when consuming liquor, and remember to put your mask back on if you need to use the bathroom. So that we remembered, the server also reminded us of the rules, as did a postcard with instructions about how to order that we were handed.
There was extremely limited contact between us and the wait staff. There was some confusion about having different tabs for food and drinks, but before long we had our snacks, pilsners, and sandwiches in front of us. The beer came in plastic cups, while the utensils were disposable and individually wrapped in plastic.
I asked my friend if he felt safe being out.
“I noticed a guy cleaning the surfaces, I assume they do it every time someone leaves,” he said. “I don’t feel unsafe, that’s for sure … they all seem to be doing the right thing.”
A guy sitting behind me got the same rundown we got, and in a short time, the place slowly began to fill up with mostly millennials, as groups of four and five showed up to sit at benches located a safe distance away. Following a short wait, our food was delivered by a guy wearing a mask that said M&M BBQ, the name of the restaurant that was added in Dorchester Brewing’s recent expansion. It’s the reason they’re allowed to open in the current phase.
Distances still being maintained, we didn’t interact with our waiter again until we requested more water and pilsners online. Finally, we ordered correctly. In fact, my friend liked using his phone.
“I don’t think it should be the only way to order,” he said, “but it should be an option.”
After a little more than an hour of drinking and eating, we headed out. But first, my buddy saw a barrel for trash behind him and went to toss away his empty cups, only for me to have to remind him to put on his mask. It’s a good thing we arrived when we did; on the way out, there were several packs of four and five people trying to get in.
Overall, the Dorchester Brewing experience wasn’t all that different from eating outdoors at a restaurant in normal times. Unlike a lot of people who are itching to leave their homes, I was in no rush to take advantage of the phased reopening, but I thoroughly enjoyed it in practice, and of course got to drink some locally brewed beer on tap for a change.
Still wary? Curious? Give it a try, just call ahead of time and make a reservation.