I had plans to stay in bed all day Saturday morning and bench watch Supernatural on Netflix but that plans got thrown out the window when I got a call from an ex-co-worker to go out for lunch.

Since COVID I haven’t been out dining, and I must admit I was a little reluctant to go out in public. I was not in the mood to cook dinner that day, so it did not take much convincing for me to accept the invitation.

I got transferred to a new location in December of last year, and since then I have not seen Sidney (my ex-co-worker) much. Sidney and I were a part of the opening team when the hotel first opened, and from the first day of training, we have been close.

Sidney works downtown Brooklyn, and since I drive and she does not, it makes sense for us to meet downtown. When I use to work in Brooklyn, my favorite restaurant was a small French/ American restaurant on Atlantic Avenue call Bacchus, so I was excited to hear that they were open and have outside dining available.

I have not been Downtown Brooklyn since March 6, 2020 (my last day to work before the hotel got shut down). As I pull my car up to an empty parking spot that was one block away from Bacchus, I have to take a minute to look around because the Atlantic Avenue I use to walk up and down on Friday evenings after work was no more.

The sidewalks I use to walk on are now occupied with tents, chairs, and tables to accommodate outside dining. The public roads are now one fewer lanes due to makeshift parking spots. And bike lanes now run through some of the outside restaurants.

As I make my way to Bacchus, I walk past a restaurant with people sitting on the curb around little wooden tables with a perfectly place succulent plant centerpiece in a crystal vase chatting and laughing, and I thought to myself “they look happy”.  I scan the faces in the rest of the seating area quickly as I try to cross the road before the light turns green, and everyone in that restaurant looks relax and comfortable, and only the servers from what I could see had a mask on.

Sidney had texted me while I was driving there to let me know she was there and got us a seat already so all I had to do upon arrival was ask for her table. As soon as I got to the door, I spot her, and she instantly waved me over to the table. A young man was standing by the door with a large black book in his hand and wearing a white shirt and black pants which I know from visiting the restaurant on many occasions was Bacchus uniform. I and soon as he greeted me, I told him I was meeting someone and point to Sidney who was still waving excitedly at the table.

The restaurant was not crowded which I liked. And just like the other restaurant I pass a few blocks down, only the servers were wearing a mask. I myself removed my masked the moment I sat at my table.

Although the restaurant was not crowded, all the tables were fully occupied, and there seems to be no one seated inside the actual restaurant. They had outside speakers set up on each side of the tent playing music but with the car horns and sirens every few seconds, it was impossible to enjoy the music. People around us were chatting and laughing and with the added noise from the street, each time Sidney and I were about to speak we have to lean forward so we can hear each other clearly.

It was my first time eating out since COVID, and while the food at Bacchus was still amazing, I cannot wait for the day we go back to inside dining because the noise from outside dining is not something I enjoyed.