We love watching First Dates Ireland for all its cheesy one-liners, flirty banter and awkward encounters but we have to admit, the people working in Dublin's most romantic restaurant have caught our attention on more than one occasion.

Each week Maître D' Mateo, master-mixologist Ethan, and servers Alice and Pete welcome reams of daters looking for love. From ordering the messiest option on the menu to escaping to the bathroom for one too many phone calls, the staff have witnessed their fair share of first date disasters.

We caught up with waitress Alice Marr to talk about the dos and don'ts of first dates and how she and the staff juggled romance and social distancing.

"Any time I see someone doing something that is a bit of a no-no, it's something that I could totally see myself doing," she laughs, reflecting on some of show's past daters.

"I think, really, it's about being yourself as much as possible," she continues. "Wear something that you feel good in. You don't need to try that new outfit and hairstyle because you might feel self conscious if it's not for you." 

"When you're on the date, listen to the other person - that's a big one. Take your time with the drinks. With nerves you can end up drinking much quicker than you expect so enjoy them but take your time."

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"Take a big deep breath every so often," she adds. "You can get carried away with a joke or conversation and then you're no longer putting yourself across well. Those nerves take you to a place and you end up saying something you don't mean to and you don't know how you got there."

So, you've put your listening ears on, you're taking deep breaths and you're keeping yourself hydrated. Now comes the hard part. When it comes to ordering your dinner, Alice suggests enjoying your food but keeping things simple for your own sake. 

"I see people when they order the burger," she says hesitantly, "and it can be good - some of them have a laugh over it - but if you think you're going to be self conscious eating in front of someone, order simple things so you can pick away and relax."

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As if dating wasn't hard enough, the game of love has an additional set of rules regulations this year thanks to COVID-19. While in the restaurant, daters had to be suitably distanced throughout the meal, meaning that a goodnight kiss was firmly off the cards.

Masks, hand sanitiser, perspex screens and socially distanced seating were put in place to ensure that the singles could meet safely, if not seductively. With all these restrictions in the mix, it was up to the staff and crew to make things fun.

"We had wonderful people going around with two metre sticks with love hearts on the end to make sure everyone is constantly staying apart," laughed Alice. "They were trying to keep fun and lightness while keeping to the restrictions which was great."

In previous years, the staff and crew are usually "on top of each" while working, swapping stories and hanging out between orders but she insists that everyone was quick to adapt to the new normal because they were so happy to have a change of scenery following a long lockdown.

In fact, Marr believes that the excitement of having a day out in Dublin gave the daters a a fresh outlook on love and a more optimistic outlook on the date in general.

"I think people were so happy to be able to on a date and to eat in a restaurant," she explains. "Even if the date wasn't a match, people were just so happy to be out where as before they might have been disappointed."

"People were more open to giving their dates a chance. Lockdowns and COVID have made it harder to meet people so maybe they were more open to a potential match."

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As for adapting to the less than romantic restrictions, Alice says that the daters took everything in their stride. 

"The two-metre table was always a bit of a shock but once they sat down, they settled into it," she insists. "They didn't have the straight off the bat intimacy that you would get sitting close to someone, and it's harder to talk about personal things when you have to speak a  bit louder, but people overcame that. They just made extra effort and they did it."

Watch First Dates Ireland on RTÉ2, Thursdays at 9pm.