This delicious — and labor intensive — strawberry salad with Dungeness crab was worth the drive to The Loft in Poulsbo. (Jennifer Bardsley)

This delicious — and labor intensive — strawberry salad with Dungeness crab was worth the drive to The Loft in Poulsbo. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Are you vaccinated and ready to dine out? Not so fast

Here are six things to consider — all due to labor shortages — before you visit your favorite restaurant.

Are you fully vaccinated and ready to give local businesses some love? That’s great, but be prepared. Labor shortages are everywhere, and that becomes readily apparent when you visit your favorite restaurant. If you’ve ever eaten out with a toddler before, you have skills that will come in handy.

Ask yourself, is dining out a good idea in the first place? When my kids were toddlers, I told my husband to throw a wet towel on me and steal $50 from my wallet the next time I suggested eating out because that would be more fun than dining with our children. Could you support your favorite restaurant by ordering take-out and picking it up in person? Could you perhaps feed your family grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup instead? Both are valid options. But if you really want to dine out, then keep reading.

Lower your expectations. Washington is in the middle of a labor shortage. When you go to a restaurant at present, it won’t be the dining experience you remember from 2019. Be grateful that people showed up to work and are feeding you. Kindness matters.

Be ready to order ASAP. Scan the menu before you arrive. Be prepared to order from the moment you sit down. That will cut down on your waiting time immensely and help the restaurant serve more people.

Be flexible. The labor shortage might mean that something you had your heart set on ordering, like Cesar salad with crab, might not be available because they didn’t have enough staff to crack the crab. Ditto with the crab cocktail. Those donuts you wanted for breakfast? Well, there’s trouble with the supplier for those, too. The toddler in you might want to be a rude jerk to your waiter even though it’s not their fault, but the adult in you should say: “That’s OK,” and pick something else off the menu.

Ask for the check as soon as your food arrives. When the server delivers your food and says, “Can I get you anything else?” ask for the check and whip out your credit card. Once your meal is paid for, you can leave whenever you want, without waiting another 15 minutes for the bill. Slick!

Tip generously. Hopefully nobody at your table left a pile of spaghetti noodles underneath their booster chair, but tip like they did. Tip like somebody knocked a sippy cup of milk across the table cloth. Tip like your kid stood on the table and yelled: “Mom! The pee is coming out!” at the top of their lungs. Look at the tax on your receipt, double it, and then add more money. If you can afford to eat out, then you can afford to reward the people who are serving you.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

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