We all do it, we all enjoy it, and most of us shouldn’t do it as much. I’m talking about eating out. It’s generally not good for your waistline or pocket book, but my wife and I really enjoy going to a nice restaurant. It gets us away from the TV, computers, games, and phones. It makes us sit down as a family and spend time together. And we enjoy going out and being with other people. This puts my family in more danger than it would be if we stayed at home.
When I go out, I’m conscious of our security, but don’t let it stop us. I just pay attention to my world. As I choose the place to eat, I notice where it is located. Places with quick access to freeways and major streets are generally robbed more because the bad guy is looking for a quick get away. Where the restaurant is located won’t stop me from going, it just gives me something else to look for. When I go in the parking lot, I’m looking at the same thing. Is the parking lot small and hard to get in and out of, or is it easy access. Again not a deal breaker, but something I like to know. Is there a lot of foot traffic? More foot traffic equals more car burglaries and vehicle thefts.
In the parking lot I’m also looking at my own escape routes.
- How congested is the parking lot (will I use my car to escape or be on foot),
- Where is the best place to park to get away,
- Which direction can I go on foot or in the car, and which directions are blocked,
- What is my best direction to go on foot and in the car,
- What other building and businesses are close that I could escape to or use as a shield,
- I like to drive around the restaurant if I haven’t been there before to get an idea of the area, where the exit doors are located, and if there is a fenced-in patio or trash can area that might slow an escape
Once I park, getting into the restaurant is easy. I just walk to the front door like everyone else. The only difference between me and everyone else is that I’m looking at the people, how many of them there are, and what are they there for. I’m hoping to see lots of good people there to enjoy a meal. Watch for the people that aren’t there to eat.
Once inside the restaurant, I would love to say that I always sit in the corner booth with my back to the wall facing the door. That just isn’t possible all the time, and when you hang out with security guys, we all seem to be fighting for that spot. So I take what I can get. The major things I’m looking for are:
- Exits, where are they and how can I get to them, and where do they go (remember the drive around),
- The flow of how the restaurant is laid out so I can move through it,
- Is there any cover I can get to that will shield me from the entrance way,
- Where the cash is kept (most likely point of a robbery),
- Where the kitchen is (there is always an exit through the kitchen),
- What’s the vibe of the place, and what kind of people are eating there (notice the “normal people” so when someone walks in that isn’t normal for the restaurant you notice them),
- While I’m eating, I watch body language of people around me and the staff
The thing most people don’t realize is that it’s okay to leave. If you walk into the restaurant and the normal people appear to be MS-13 gang members, it’s okay to say no thank you and walk out. It’s also okay to leave if you think something is going wrong. Most exit doors are alarmed, but that’s okay. If there is a fight breaking out between two groups at the front door, I’m leaving. I’ll grab my kid and wife and we are gone through the nearest exit (or even the kitchen). I’ll come back and pay later. I like to carry cash. If things look they are headed south, like the rival gang just showed up to eat with MS-13, I’ll leave money on the table and just get up and leave.
What I’m trying to say is, if you get any kind of funny vibe, either don’t eat there or leave. Even halfway through your meal, it’s better to be hungry and alive, than to be in the middle of a bar brawl where lots of people go to the hospital.