HOW TO ORDER
In the pandemic, ordering food ahead has become a little more complex. Of course you can always call, but more and more restaurants have online ordering systems in place; just follow their instructions. It's important to start at the restaurant's actual website, because if you just Google their name, you may get diverted to a third-party app that could charge more fees. Most restaurants offer the ability to choose your pickup or delivery time, and, as always, place your order early enough to give them time.
KNOW THE GUIDANCE
Even though the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area really is one big community, there is a state line, with two different sets of safety protocols to follow. As of press time, all of Idaho is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening plan. For restaurants, that means they can offer indoor and outdoor dining where physical distancing and sanitary protocols are in place; guests must be seated except when they are entering or leaving. For more info, visit rebound.idaho.gov. All of Washington is currently in Phase 2 of its reopening plan. Restaurants following all other safety protocols can welcome guests to dine inside with seating capacities set at 25 percent of normal. For more info, visit coronavirus.wa.gov.
SAVE A SEAT
With capacity restrictions in place, getting a reservation is more important than ever. So even if a reservation is not officially required, it's still a good idea to call and guarantee your spot if you are looking to dine in.
Tipping has always been a bit confusing. During the pandemic, many people are tipping more generously, knowing that tips can help frontline restaurant workers directly. Anything above standard is always appreciated. Your tip should be calculated before subtracting any promotions or discounts. Here are some general tipping guidelines taken from emilypost.com and menufy.com:
DINE IN TABLE SERVICE: 15%-20%
TAKEOUT: 5%-10% (on the higher end for curbside or large orders)
DELIVERY: 10%-15% (most delivery apps have 15% preloaded in their system, so you need to adjust manually if you prefer)
DELIVERY OR TAKEOUT?
For convenience alone, delivery is a great option, and there are many vendors that can bring the best food in town right to your door. (In fact, there is one local delivery service, Treehouse, that works with many local restaurants.) You will pay a fee for that delivery — but it costs restaurants, too. Restaurants want you to buy their food however you like, but keep in mind that by just picking up your order as takeout, the restaurant gets to keep more of your money.
Beyond the three special meal options you'll see from each participating restaurant, don't forget that their current full menus are all still available during the Great Dine Out. So just find their menu online and choose whatever looks best to you.
For different reasons, not every restaurant was able to participate in the Great Dine Out. If one of your favorite sit-down restaurants isn't listed in the pages ahead, remember that they need your support, too, so please keep them in your mix of places to order from.
KEEP IT UP!
Our local restaurants are just coming through the most challenging time in their histories. The efforts of so many local diners have been crucial in helping them get through as best they could. We're taking care of our own here — and it's working — but we're not out of this yet.