Rebecca Powers of Mesa took her 12-year-old son Jaxson to lunch Tuesday at one of their favorite local restaurants — BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery in Mesa — because she could. The two hadn’t been able to eat out together since Governor Doug Ducey ordered all restaurant dine-in service closed on March 19. Eat-in service reopened yesterday, up to restaurants’ discretion.
Although the family enjoyed their usual fare, the experience was far from usual. “It was quite an experience,” Powers said. “I have to say it was interesting.”
She and her son arrived at the restaurant around 11:45 a.m. The first thing she noticed was fewer people than she remembered during previous visits at that time. And then she saw the round social distance markers along the floor directing patrons to stand six feet apart. She also detected a light smell of sanitizer or cleanser.
A masked and gloved hostess greeted them. As the hostess led them to their table, Powers noted that every other booth or table was unoccupied in order to maintain recommended physical distancing.
Once in their booth, their waitress — also wearing a mask and gloves — gave them choices for menus that they hadn’t encountered before: either a disposable menu or a printed QR code.
They chose to use the QR code to scan on their phone to pull up BJ’s digital menu. They ordered their typical grilled cheese sandwich and spaghetti lunch. While they waited, she noticed a steady stream of takeout business in and out. Then it was lunch time.
“It was different but it was super quick service though and good food,” Power said. “It felt comfortable and safe.”
When it was time to pay, she simply opened the BJ’s mobile app and took care of the bill through her credit card already in the app. Voila, contactless payment!
Powers said she is looking forward to resuming going out to eat once a week with her family as they used to. Next up is breakfast this coming weekend. She said she had no concerns about safety or sanitation – quite the opposite.
“Restaurants have taken serious precautions and are following all protocols. It was so refreshing, and it feels great to support local spots again! It’s like we’ve been sprung from being grounded. Also – great I don’t have to cook,” she said. “It gave me a break. I didn’t have to think what to feed my child for lunch today.”