There’s no need to put summer on hold if you follow some simple advice to celebrate safely.
As the summer season approaches, safety should be at the top of the menu! Many local restaurants are beginning to welcome sit-down guests once again while effectively protecting both staff and patrons. Brian Mahon, co-owner of Lilly’s and the Hudson Grille restaurants, both recently opened for patio dining on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, shared some of the safety centered strategies in place there – all smart ideas for home barbecues and parties too:
Take It Outside!
Mahon says his restaurants’ shared 5,000 square foot patio space is organized for social distancing and allowing for natural air flow. You can follow suit at your party by spacing picnic or patio tables at least 6 feet apart and limiting to 4 diners per table.
Designate Cooking Duties
The CDC says that up to 80% of all illnesses may be spread by contaminated hands. To reduce that risk, Mahon suggests having one person only on the grill, another on salad duty, and yet one more on dessert etc... Use clean gloves to handle and serve all food, and wear a face shield and mouth covering while preparing food for others – all part of the new normal at Mahon’s restaurants. Guests should not feel shy about wearing a face covering at the table before and after their meal. They more comfortable and safe they feel, the more they will enjoy their experience!
When planning your menu, consider simple, individual serving foods like burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs and corn on the cob. Bowls of salad and chips, which attract lots of hands, are a definite no-no in this climate – stock up on some single-serve chip bags if they are a must at your get-together, and pick up some condiment and salt and pepper packets.
Allow your guest to bring their own wine glasses or beer mugs if they aren’t fond of drinking out of disposable cups. “We want to do whatever it takes to make our customers feel safe and comfortable,” he says. Same goes for bottle openers, as the less you need to pass around, the better. Keep Sharpies on hand to mark all cups and plates.
Hype Up the Hygeine
Don’t forget the must-have table decoration for the Summer Entertaining Season: hand sanitizer! In addition, Mahon has dispensers outside of the bathroom and near all entrances and exits. Stash all hand towels, and purchase a stack of decorative throwaway hand towels for the bathroom.
Get a Little Creative
“With Zoom gatherings taking off, don’t be afraid to try a virtual barbecue cook-off with friends and family, so you can still have bragging rights,” suggests Mahon. If anything, coronavirus has sparked some new ideas for current takeout offerings, including brunch boxes with mimosas, and coming soon: marinated burgers and ribs in a box, with instructions for how to cook them.
Ready to try a little gourmet creativity yourself? Tyler Jacobs, executive chef at Lilly’s and the Hudson Grille, shares how to season your dishes like a pro. Check out his recipes for Chipotle Mayo for Grilled Corn and Chimichurri Steak Sauce.