After an extremely strenuous and stressful year filled with more downs than ups, things are finally making their way back and taking a turn for the better as the effects of vaccinations and thus lifted restrictions continue their reach across Maine and beyond.
For restaurants, bars, inns, hotels, breweries, shops, you name it, after a year of limited and socially distanced service this is especially uplifting news as Maine now heads into its busy summer season! But while local businesses are eagerly awaiting to warmly welcome new and returning visitors, as well as locals safely back, it is important to mention that the aftermath of COVID is still being widely felt across businesses alike. That’s why we are breaking down what you can expect this summer in Portland and recommended tips that will show local businesses some love and will also help you make the best of your trip.
- Expect to still have to wear a mask: Vaccinated or not, required by the CDC or not, many (but not all) private businesses may still kindly ask you to mask up while on the premises to protect those that are unable to get vaccinated or are waiting to become fully vaccinated. Even more, after a year of uncertainty and unexpected hits, businesses are taking it day-by-day on a learning curve as we ease out of restrictions and back into normal life. Deciding to play it safe is the name of the game. Please kindly remember that as private businesses it’s their right to refuse service as they see fit.
- Expect a Wait: We get it. Waiting is one of life’s most unenjoyable aspects, especially when the hanger sets in, however, due to a staffing shortage and a hiring problem, many businesses are running with reduced staff, as well as, an entirely new staff learning right on the spot. This means for you, a potential wait at the door, a potential wait for service, a potential wait at the counter, and a potential wait for food and/or drinks. They are doing the best they can!But that’s not just our opinion. As quoted honestly from an anonymous service worker, “Wait times for everything…onslaught of people with staffing shortage has been a constant struggle. Sh*t just takes longer!”
- Limited Capacity: Many places will still be operating under limited capacity and seating for two important reasons. As stated earlier, the first reason is that they are approaching the restriction lifts with a safe not sorry method. The latter? That again comes down to staffing and the staffing shortage. The more in the building the more service and food they will have to provide. It’s every owner’s and manager’s intent for visitors to have a good experience, which means limiting seating instead of cramming as many bodies as they can in one location with long wait times.
Without sounding too much like a nagging parent, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you seek out adventure in Portland. These will not only help businesses but yourself as well!
- Be kind and patient: It’s been a tough year for all of us and we are all just ready to have some fun, right? So let’s bring back two of the Cardinal Rules we learn early on in life: always be kind and have patience. Having this mindset will get you far and businesses cannot thank you enough for this one.
As one anonymous industry vet has told us, “We just hope everyone remembers to be kind, generous, and a little more respectful. Keep your expectations low and be ready for more than you’re used to! We got this! Don’t forget to be nice, friends…it goes a long way.”
- Make a reservation: Reservations exist for a reason! And these days they are so easy to do as most spots take them over OpenTable, Resy, or just by calling! It’s a guaranteed way to have a table without having to wait.
- Call ahead: You can’t always plan for everything and that’s okay! Do yourself a favor and call ahead as much as possible even if it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision to come to visit (Even more so if you are a larger party!). This way you can gather more information on wait times, party sizes, mask rules, and anything else you may want to know before you go. It also gives the businesses some time to potentially plan on their end for your arrival.
- Research, research, research: Knowledge is power! If you have time, research a particular business of interest and find out what it is you want to know exactly. Could be regarding their current guidelines and what to expect while visiting, or simply, do they have vegan options? Additionally, reach out past your website search. A lot of businesses are easy to contact via social media, phone, and/or email these days and are always interested in connecting.
- Look for signs: This is your sign to look for signs because they are everywhere! No really, they are and they will point you in the right direction and how to proceed.
- Leave a review: They want to know! As imperfect humans, we can’t see or know everything. Leave some love virtually. Didn’t enjoy your time? It happens. Kindly suggest how they may improve. Most are receptive or can offer a simple explanation as to why things are done the way they are.
All-in-all it’s bound to be a MUCH better summer than 2020, filled with happier (and safer) memories. Whether you live locally or are visiting from afar, let’s finally have some fun!