<2021 Fall Dining Guide>
Eat out with any frequency and you can’t help but notice changes on the restaurant scene wrought by the pandemic. Service seems to be in a free fall as dining room staff have left the industry in droves, there’s a chance you’ll be asked for proof of vaccination when you show up for your reservation, and good luck finding somewhere to eat early in the week or late at night. A lack of staff means shorter hours of operation at restaurants across the board. Eighteen months into the global crisis, the people who feed us away from home wonder how much resilience they still need to muster.
One of them, Angel Barreto, sees something profound — positive even — coming out of the mess. The executive chef at Anju in Washington, who’s spent half his 32 years in the industry, is no Ted Lasso. “I’m nervous,” he says. “A lot of people have left the industry.” Asked to sum up 2021, “crucible” is the first word out of his mouth. On the other hand, he feels he’s bonded more with his colleagues since the pandemic “set ego and hubris aside.” Echoing others in the industry, Barreto says, “We give so much to guests. But we don’t give back to staff.”