ROME (Reuters) – Say “arrivederci” to paper menus.
As Italian restaurants reopen after a business-bruising coronavirus lockdown, owners are turning to safe eating practices to entice customers back.
“Finally after two-and-a-half-months of imprisonment, I’ve managed to come out, not just to go to the supermarket but to a restaurant. It’s great satisfaction and if you eat well, it is even better,” said Stefano Prati.
The 53-year-old local had just finished eating a plate of “pasta alla carbonara” a Roman speciality, on Wednesday at Da Enzo, a restaurant tucked away in the Trastevere neighbourhood.
Restaurateurs, who reopened on Monday, have bent over backwards to give clients a safe dining experience.
At Da Enzo’s, that means no paper menus. Instead, a waiter holds up a QR scan code. Customers point their smart phones at it and a menu comes up on their screen with the day’s specialties.
Customers, even older ones, are adapting.
“They’re a bit surprised at first, some fear they won’t be able to use it, but then they realise it’s very easy and they’re happy,” said owner Maria Chiara Di Felice, 37.
Chefs wear masks, gloves and safety goggles as they fry “carciofi alla Romana,” or artichokes Roman style, to perfection.
Tables have been reduced by almost half and re-arranged to be at least one metre apart, with stickers of the restaurant’s logo dotted in rectangles on the floor to keep them there.
After patrons leave, staff disinfect tables and chairs.
The neighbourhood doesn’t bustle with tourists like before the outbreak but Di Felici is optimistic.
“My hopes are probably those shared by everyone – which is that even if very gradually, I hope that we can come back to living, in some way at least, the life we lived before. Nothing more than this,” she said.
Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson