Don’t Forget Your Mask: Dining Out(side)

Lucharitos in Center Moriches
Lucharitos in Center Moriches
Barbara Lassen

When does the “new normal” become just…normal?

Over the weekend, my mother and I realized that the weather was too lovely to spend the afternoon inside watching British crime dramas and decided to go for a drive. As we were walking out the door, I glanced her way.

“Don’t forget your mask,” I said.

She was one step ahead, pulling a flowery pattern out of her bag. My mask was designed with a nerdy reference to the classic Twilight Zone episode “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”

The first stop on our impromptu outing was to Lucharitos in Center Moriches. They took our names and we instinctively walked back to my car to wait for the masked host to come and seat us at an outdoor table. It was a full three minutes sitting in the car before my mother reminded me I didn’t need my mask in the car.

We waited 10 minutes before being seated and enjoyed delicious smoked duck tacos and queso while chatting about how nice Lucharitos’ outdoor setup was and then proceeded to gossip about family, friends and anything else a 30-something talks to his mother about over lunch. We automatically put our masks back on the few times the waitress came by to check on us.

After a lovely lunch, we drove to the North Fork. Our destination was North Fork Doughnut Company in Mattituck, where we stood in a socially distanced line to order artisanal doughnuts from the good-natured teens working the window. We took our doughnuts and cold brew down the road to Love Lane, found a bench under a tree and relaxed for a bit. Love Lane was lively and populated, and we eventually took a stroll around, window shopping.

We got back in our car and drove home. Again, my mother reminded me I didn’t really need the mask in the car. That evening, we ordered dinner via app, and I waved to the delivery man as he left the food next to the door before driving off.

Over the course of the day, several observations were made. “Wow, low gas prices!” I exclaimed throughout our drive. School billboards displayed “welcome back students” signs. On the LIE, there were various messages to “wear a mask.” Every store on Love Lane had a sign outside reminding patrons to be courteous and do their part to protect themselves and those around them.

It seemed to me that, after months of turmoil, the East End had started to settle into the reality of socially distanced life. The dining community, in particular, had adapted quite beautifully—Lucharitos’ staff was friendly, attentive and took pains to make everyone feel safe.

Now, let’s look forward to the day we can call an outing without masks “normal!”

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