OP ED.

How I plan to create safe, food-centric experiences all summer long.

I am what many have categorized as a ‘millennial foodie’- a target demographic during many a persona exercise. Hours are spent predicting my behavior, what will appeal to me and what might motivate my decisions. I thought I might save everyone the guess-work and share what’s on my mind as the Bay Area enters its fourth month of C-19 mitigation measures.

As the world begins to reopen and recede back to (some sense of) normalcy, I am met simultaneously with a wave of fresh air as well as anxiety. Am I ready to dine out again? Absolutely, yes! But wait, aren’t cases going up in California? Well… yes. Being someone who loves social interactions and food, I have to ask myself, what will be the new normal for social settings around food? How can I feel safe while also being able to enjoy a meal with another human? One lesson I have taken away from quarantine is that adapting to COVID19 life is all about balance.

The Bay Area recently introduced the concept of a “social bubble” defined as a group of 12 or fewer people who may socialize together but only outside. Also known as “pandemic pods” or “quarantine crews”, the rules state that one person should only be part of one social bubble, that masks and social distancing are required, and bubbles should be maintained for at least three weeks. I like to equate a “social bubble” with the long lost concept of “MySpace Top 8, where as a teenager I would evaluate who were my “top” friends, similar to who are the top friends worth including in a social bubble…because in this pandemic one must decide. We will see how this pans out longer term, but for now, it seems like a pretty decent solution- to be able to leave one’s immediate circle of housemates, coworkers, and family to venture outdoors with your finest mask to simply ‘hang out’ - ah, the novelty!

 

 

 

Another major factor contributing to the ‘new normal’ is the opening of dining outdoors in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is summer after all and about time to grab a cold cocktail under the sunny California sun, right? Some cities are coming up with creative solutions to allow for more people to dine outdoors. The City of Berkeley is closing off streets to create space for outdoor dining -albeit a dining world of disposable menus, contactless payment systems, temperature checks, and waitstaff wearing masks, but hey- it’s way better than “to-go only” right?

 

With the possibility of social bubbles and the opening of dining outdoors, here are some of my ideas for creating safe food-centric social experiences:

 

 

 


-Host an outdoor social distance BBQ or picnic with your bubble-mates
-Enjoy dining or a drink outdoors at a distance with your pandemic pod
-Order to-go and eat outdoors at a park or backyard with your quarantine crew

Remember to stay safe and stay healthy during this time. I have to remind myself that while it’s ‘ok’ to leave home for now and enjoy some social dining experiences, I can’t lose sight of the fact that we are still in a pandemic. But hey, I’m reminded of that each time I encounter a mask or temperature checkpoint.

 

To this I say:

Welcome to the future. LET’S EAT!