Prior to 2020, dining out was once one of three things: a luxury night out, a means to celebrate something big, or a casual way to spend some time outside of the house. When the pandemic hit, restaurants were one of the first businesses to be affected along with their staff. Switching to takeout-only, cutting staff down as time went on, and altering menus were only some of the things that the food industry faced as their doors remained shut. When case numbers started declining, outdoor dining was an option, and face masks became mandatory, it was as though all of a sudden, we could embrace dining out again.


Related: Everything Restaurant Employees Are Really Thinking Right Now... And Why You Should Listen

Now that the number of people getting vaccinated is on the rise, more and more diners are feeling confident in their ability to dine both indoors and outdoors. The more people who are vaccinated, the better chances the world has at getting back to 'normal' according to experts, and that includes eating indoors at our favorite restaurants. As the tide begins to turn, we're looking back at everything we missed during this long, dark year, that we never thought we would.

The Buzz And Chatter Of A Restaurant Lobby

There's something exciting about walking into a busy restaurant on a weekend night. The well-oiled machine that is the restaurant industry certainly knows how to handle such a crowd but for diners, there's a thrill in watching the hustle and bustle. After giving a name to the host, there's nothing left to do but sit back and watch everything that's happening around you, and there's always plenty to see.

Steaming hot plates of food making their way to tables (and wondering how a person could possibly carry so much with such coordination), listening to fragments of conversations from seated parties, hearing the inevitable boom of laughter from the one guest who's always louder than the rest. It's a thrilling few minutes, and something you never really think of when you're waiting for your name to be called.

Waiting In A Long Line To Be Seated

Similar to waiting in the lobby, waiting in line is something many of us complained about prior to the pandemic. There was no joy to be had in appreciating the small things such as the fact that a line simply exists to wait on. Following the pandemic, the fact that you could get a secluded table in your favorite restaurant if you chose to dine out, was akin to winning the lottery.

Now, there's a level of gratefulness that exists in having the privilege of waiting to be seated or put your name down for a table. Mindfulness is something we all seem to have more experience with now.

Listening To Servers State Their Well-Rehearsed Specials

There's no use in denying it: there have been times when everyone has zoned out while hearing the restaurant specials. More often than not, it's likely due to the fact that diners have already made up their minds as far as what they want to order - or that they simply have no interest in the specials. However, when most of us have spent so much time alone, hearing the well-rehearsed list of a restaurant's offering is simply another means of social, human connection - and it's something that was definitely missed.

Digging Into A New Dish

Nothing is quite as exciting now as being able to dive into a dish that's new to us, and one that we haven't prepared ourselves. Sure, all the time at home has allowed us to hone our cooking skills, but it's always nice to have the pressure lifted with one goal in mind: to eat.

When our favorite restaurant, or a new restaurant entirely, offers up something exotic and intriguing, there's a new level of excitement to be felt.

Sharing Appetizers And Starters

Normally, the first person to reach out for one of our appetizers would likely be prone to have a fork stuck in their hand. However, with the ability to share food - or, more accurately, the caution against doing so - being something that was foreign over the last year, it's more thoughtful than ever to split a dish.

While eating from the same fork is still discouraged, offering a baked clam or mozzarella stick is the new way of being thoughtful.

Envying Someone's Else's Food

In a similar way, food envy is yet another thing that many of us had forgotten about in our year of non-dining. Whether it happens as the scent of someone else's order comes wafting over to your nose or, even worse, someone in your party offers something delicious, this type of envy would usually leave a person with some post-order regret. Now, it's just a chance - and an excuse - to come back and order that same thing, with the newfound appreciation for being able to do so.

Next: Food Trucks Are Still The Future, Here Are The Benefits Of Eating At One Over A Restaurant