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Eating dinner at 3 p.m. will turn this pandemic around
Dinner at 7 is so two years ago. Come, delight in the joy of an empty restaurant.
Imagine the bliss of a spacious restaurant at 3 p.m., like Ulele in Tampa.
Imagine the bliss of a spacious restaurant at 3 p.m., like Ulele in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Sep. 14

I have solved the pandemic!*

* I have not solved the pandemic.

Caveat: This solution is for those who have done their part by getting vaccinated and masking. They are trying to live responsibly while chaos continues to rain down, like frogs in the Book of Exodus. These people are neither hermits, nor sharing King Cones with strangers.

Sound like you? Read on. Doesn’t sound like you? I look forward to your emails.

The answer to all our problems* lies in the 3 p.m. weekend restaurant meal.

* We have many more problems, and none are answered.

This is a restaurant’s slow time, the awkward period between lunch and dinner. At 2 p.m., the lunch crowd is still clearing out. At 4 p.m., the early birds are trickling in. But 3 p.m. is the unsung hero* of the pandemic.

* Not a real hero at all.

I’ve come to appreciate 3 p.m. dinner. Not only do I like to sleep late on weekends (and let’s be honest, all days), I like to remain in pajamas with coffee and books and episodes of The Pioneer Woman in which I concoct romantic fan fiction about the ranch hands. They’re not just showing up for country fried steak, if yaknowwhamean.

Okay, for those keeping track, I have accomplished absolutely nothing on this average Saturday. The busy morning schedule places breakfast at about 11 a.m. Noon to 3 p.m. is go-time for errands, work around the house, submitting The Pioneer Woman fan fiction to websites.

Lunch? I don’t know her. It is now 3 p.m., and all I’ve had are Frosted Flakes and gallons of coffee. I am hangry. I am Hannibal Lecter. I am ready to eat in a major way.

Enter the beautiful blessing of a restaurant at 3 p.m. There’s no squeezing around parties of 10 as they gather for Bubby’s 84th birthday. And yes, ma’am, you may have the best table in the house, because you may have any table in this house.

Crucially, 3 p.m. dinner eliminates The Look. You know The Look. It’s the one you give your dining companion that says, “does it look too COVIDy here? It might be too COVIDy here.” It is often accompanied by the Teeth Clench and the Let’s Go Head Wag.

At 3 p.m. dinner, you aren’t 6 feet apart from people. You are 60 feet apart. The food comes fast and furious, because the kitchen is not overwhelmed. It is easy to get your server’s attention, because your server is leaning against a nearby wall.

Where’s the energy, you say? The clanging of plates, the overheard conversations? Yeah, dinner at 7 p.m. is a nice memory, but we have to make sacrifices. So far, the 2020s are not meant for squeezing into booths, swapping lipsticks in bathrooms or making auxiliary friendships. This is an era for ordering hamburgers in a venue that sounds like the inside of a drum.

Yes, yes. There is one problem with 3 p.m. dinner: 8 p.m., when you will start to creep around the kitchen like an unhinged hyena looking for snacks. That’s fine, because 8 p.m. is the Scrolling Hour, time to check the headlines from the safety of home. You’re going to need six bags of Funyuns just to get through the latest lawsuits out of Florida.

So, we agree? Dinner at 3 p.m. for the foreseeable future? Not everyone all at once, though. That would defeat the purpose. Please see the attached signup sheet to schedule your dinner block.*

* There is no signup sheet.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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