Here’s What It’s Like Grabbing a Beer at Waikīkī Brewing Co. in Kaka‘ako During Quarantine
My neighborhood brewery opened on Friday, June 5, and I was one of the first to show up with my dog (on a leash).
The last time I went out to a restaurant, bar or brewery was on March 16. As I was eating my dinner the owner of the Chinatown establishment told us that he was closing the very next day. At this point I thought our probable lockdown wouldn’t last past April.
How wrong I was.
Mid-April I found myself stopping by my neighborhood brewery, Waikīkī Brewing Co. on Queen Street, to pick up 24 cans for $24. The friendly and lively spot had turned into a vacant space, with worried workers wandering around trying to help loyal customers with the same Cheers-style friendliness. The effort was there but it just wasn’t the same without being able to sit for hours, drink in hand while my dog begs for chicken and I chat with the staff and other loyal customers. When I became more of a quarantine-queen by never leaving my building, I showed my support by buying my favorite beer from a store in my building. Face-to-face meetups were a thing of the past.
I had food, groceries and pet supplies delivered to my door, took separate elevator rides from others in my building, and only went out with my dog when necessary. By June 1 I was getting anxious.
And then the mayor announced restaurants were reopening.
My recent coronavirus antibody test came back negative so the first person I contacted was my brewery buddy whose baby is besties with my dog. I texted, “Should we be the first pau hana customers at our brewery?” Within minutes she said she would make the reservations. I reached out to a waitress from the brewery to let her know that we were coming and she shared tips for dining in at the new Waikīkī Brewing Co. in Kaka‘ako. This made me think: What should we all know before our first night out on the town?
Here is everything you should do so you and the establishment can have the best experience during this new temporary normal:
- Make a reservation. They’re not required but when I saw people waiting two hours I felt like they should be.
- Wear you mask when entering, exiting and anytime you leave your table.
- Don’t leave your table for any reason except to visit the restroom. Everyone must stick to strict 6-feet-away rules.
- Waikīkī Brewing Co. has switched to QR codes instead of handing you physical menus. Some people may moan at this but as an Asian from Asia my heart is happy: Just use your camera on your smartphone to scan the code on your table and the menu will pop up on your screen. If restaurants want to stay open they must remain as contactless as possible. Let’s help them do this.
- Side note: Many of the cash vendors at weekly farmers markets are now asking for Venmo payments. Download the free app so you can support local businesses.
- Avoid cash. Try to stick to card payments to avoid contact. You may feel comfortable but remember the staff are handling multiple customers and therefore running back and forth to sanitary stations and bathrooms to clean up constantly. Let’s not make their lives too difficult.
- Only stay the allocated time. We were given an hour and a half, which is shorter than we’d normally stay but totally reasonable given the situation. Unfortunately, seeing that we know the entire staff and wanted to hang out, we ended up staying a little over our time and many angry people waiting outside glared at us. Don’t be like us. Follow the rules.
- That being said, only some restaurants are limiting the time you can visit so check when making reservations.
- Six feet apart and confirm the maximum party size. Don’t invite everyone and their aunties just yet. At Waikīkī Brewing Co. they’re only allowing six or less per table.
- Wear those outfits you’ve been planning for three months. While we sat there drinking three pints, eating pretzels, burgers and tater tots, stylish women showed up in their post-quarantine dresses and heels looking ah.mah.zing. Yes girls. Delete those Bumble profiles because you are looking fly IRL.
- Tip well. It seems that most restaurants and bars are rehiring their staff. Waikīkī Brewing Co. was pooling tips since the bartenders could only seat a third of their normal customers. Tip well, people. A lot of the workers were receiving unemployment checks, and now they’ve been called back to work with only a fraction of their former income.
- Keep kids close. No matter how much our favorite restaurants love us, you can’t walk your active little ones around right now. Bring coloring books, iPads with The Secret Life of Pets 2 downloaded and snacks to keep them occupied.
- Back away from the bar. The seat you’ve been given is your new home for the next hour and a half. Restaurants and breweries are currently sitting room only.
- Visit your local spots first. The final recommendation I’ll make is that you should visit your favorite restaurant and brewery first. The staff want to show their loyal customers a good welcome back and you being their go-to group makes it easier for them. They’ve been out of work for months so by being their easygoing customers makes the transition a whole lot smoother. Visit new places later—show your support for your favorite chef, owner, server, bartender first.