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Here's How Some Cali Restaurants Think Reopening Should Look

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An employee at at Carvery Kitchen in Santa Monica prepares sandwiches for medical workers on April 24, 2020. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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What will restaurants look like when they're allowed to reopen their dining rooms?

You won't be able to eat with anyone you don't live with. Your server will probably wear a face mask. Instead of ketchup or salt and pepper, the top condiment* on your table will likely be hand sanitizer. Forget about buffets or salad bars and don't expect to carbo load from a shared bread basket.

That's what the California Restaurant Association wants to see.

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The trade industry group drafted these guidelines and is presenting them today to California Governor Gavin Newsom, reports the Associated Press.

The CRA and the restaurant owners it represents are hoping these rules will satisfy Newsom and they won't face stricter measures — like limiting the number of tables, taking diners' temperatures before they come in or requiring plexiglass barriers to be installed between tables — when restaurants are allowed to reopen their dining rooms.

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A waiter in a face shield serves a customer while people eat in between plastic partitions, set up to contain the spread of COVID-19, at a hotpot restaurant in Bangkok on May 5, 2020. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Since mid-March, restaurants throughout Los Angeles County have only been allowed to function as takeout and delivery businesses.

The guidelines were drafted by the CRA with help from the California Conference of Local Health Officers and the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health.

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In Texas, which has already allowed restaurants to reopen their dining rooms, Hillstone Restaurant Group is facing controversy after forbidding its employees from wearing face masks. The Los Angeles-based company owns and operates several brands including Houston's, Honor Bar and R&D Kitchen.

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A waitress wearing rubber gloves and a mask is seen bringing out food for patrons at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant on April 27, 2020 in Franklin, Tennessee. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Whatever regulations state and county officials require, the big question is: Will customers show up?

California's restaurants face a drastically different world than they did a few months ago. People are out of work. The economy is cratering. Potential patrons are anxious about getting sick. The hospitality industry is built on human interaction and face-to-face contact and in a post-coronavirus world, both businesses and consumers will have to shift their expectations of what it looks like to eat out.

*Yes, we know hand sanitizer is NOT a condiment. We're just being puckish. In case we need to tell you: DON'T INGEST HAND SANITIZER.

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