Most of our readers are over 50, and/or live outside of the USA, back in the "Grease" era there was a trend here in America at restaurants... while "Drive-In" restaurants, movies, dry cleaners, banks, and pharmacies were all popular beginning around 1950, the harsh winter-time weather areas had a hard time with those "Car Hops" wearing skating-skirts and angel blouses on roller skates delivering food on ice.

Two things happened... for winter... they invented parking space menu boards and intercoms and had  Parka-clad "guys" in snow boots bringing out the food you ordered, it was awkward... the wind would blow your meal onto the hood, dump your drinks or freeze you out, then, they got tired of people ordering-eating-and driving away without paying and stealing their trays.

The next design was "indoor-only"... each booth had a self-contained Wurlitzer mini-Juke box with push buttons and those flip cards for song selection mounted (one side had the menu the other song choices) .. the cacophony of one booth listening to Little Richard, the next booth listening to Tchaikovsky, and the third booth's HillBilly music created a choice of either hiring armed security guards to break up the fights or a new idea.

That new idea... I predict will be reappearing shortly, a telephone at each table, and a lighted menu screen.   For years, most posh supper clubs in the East always had telephones at each table for staying in contact with the office during a meal, or, to call that good looking person at table 9, or to reorder drinks with... plus your main meal (with instructions).

It eliminated extravagant "tips", gave you more privacy (curtained seating was popular), all by removing a waiter/waitress from the quotient... the reverse course was the Smorgasbord, or Cafeteria-style eating experience we used to call (visiting the drool palace), with all the open to airborne food offerings.

So, lets revisit 2020 dining out,  sitting on the toilet at home you laptop your reservations in for 1900 at table six, you use the keypad code given you to enter, then order drinks and food on the two-way video touch screen (with delivery to-table or you-pick-up choices), and while you wait... you video conference the office before dinner, check on the kids, and today, you can even pay at your table on on the insert-only smart-card, and, eliminate the cashier as well (after filling out the on-screen customer satisfaction sheet).

Anyone remember 1940's-1970's Auto-Mat food vending?  every incarnation of snack-dessert-complete hot meal on a tray (like high school/military) from a machine you control (select-heat-pay-dispense) early frozen to microwave (er, Radar range) stuff.  I am not sure these made it out of the North Coast/North East area, but, they were around everywhere for 50 or so years and very popular.

Returning from COVID19 wit our new-found awareness, and rethinking the dining-out experience/exposures may alter how we wish to visit a Ma and Pa restaurant, and servers, whether luxury private curtained cell dining or Mc Donalds, methinks there will be changes in how we view eating out.