Food During COVID-19
October 16, 2020
Food Service during an Economic Crisis
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stores and restaurants have changed drastically because of the current situation. Each store has responded differently toward the virus. Restaurants and grocery stores have had to increase sanitation due to constant directives from governor Newsom the pandemic His guidelines, as well as those from the CDC have required significant measures to ensure the safety of its customers and staff.
“Our employees have a strict sanitation policy. After each hour, we clean every part of the store including carts, handles, checkstands, and walls. Overall we have sanitized a ton to create a safe and clean environment for the customers,” said Kenny, the manager of the Day Creek Stater Brothers.
Stores everywhere in our city have had to take similar precautions.
“Now we wipe down every door handle every 30 minutes, all high touch points like the keypads for the checkstands, cart handles- we have staff wiping down carts after every single customer uses it,” said Ralphs manager Mark.
Grocery stores aren’t the only businesses that have undergone significant change. In an effort to prevent business from decreasing, places that sell food must take extra precautions to meet the needs of their customers. “We have required all workers to wash hands, wash the tables so they can be clean. We wash everything that we can. After every single use and every single thing that goes out to the table has always been sanitized,” said Nicole, Island’s manager.
Many may believe that business has decreased due to the pandemic, and that people are not wanting to leave their houses. However, the amount of business stores has actually increased dramatically since the virus began.
“People are staying at home and cooking instead of going out to restaurants, so there has been an increase in the number of customers,” said Kenny, Stater Brothers manager.
“It started off with paper goods. That was the immediate rush that everyone was buying – toilet paper, paper towels. And now it’s a lot of canned vegetables-stuff like that, frozen goods,” said Mark, Ralph’s manager.
However, not all businesses have seen an increase in sales. A lot of businesses have been struggling to maintain business and staffing before the world turned upside down.
“No, there has not been an increase. In the beginning when there was only takeout, there was an increase and people were not able to come to the restaurant. But not really anymore,” said Nicole from Islands.
Many restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic and the mandatory closures and measures that followed. But most grocery stores, like Ralph’s, have not been hit with the same effect. In some cases, the grocery stores have actually seen an increase.
Ralph’s manager, Mark stated, “We’ve had to limit people- initially we are now operating 50% more than before.”
Businesses across the nation have dealt with challenges and requirements to keep their business open since the pandemic began. Time will tell if our regular routines will return or if this new normal is indeed normal.
“This is a challenge for everybody. We are waiting to see what’s going to happen as we head into the holiday season,” said Mark.
Food for a Thought
As a result of the COVID quarantine, restaurant management has been forced to move quickly to avoid shutting its doors . Local eateries have had to, “develop new ways of customers who want to visit our restaurant such as outside dining, drive through, and take out,” said John, an employee at Wendy’s.
There are contrasting regulations at different restaurants such as how they manage. Shawna, an In-N-Out employee said, ”Due to social distancing in California, food is only available for takeout.” The general manager at Lazy Dog responded similarly: “There are more tables inside [for dine-in].” Although dine-in is an option at some restaurants, there is a limited menu which creates a need for fewer employees and shorter overall hours.
In order to maintain minimal contact, staffing has decreased by 20% in some fast food restaurants. “We don’t have as many servers as usual, [because] we moved them to drive-thru. We are hoping to hire more staff for inside,” said John, a worker at Wendy’s. Other than decreasing the amount of staff, restaurants have been required a change in PPE (personal protective equipment).“Associates have been required to wear a mask and gloves. We have adopted sanitization methods when handling cash or cards,” said Shawna, an employee at In-N-Out.
In contrast, “the ordering process is actually the same,” said John, an employee at Wendy’s. “We have been able to provide the same quality of food, as well as ordering the same, except with masks,” said Shawna at In N’ Out. The ordering process has remained, aside from added sanitation protocols.
One surprise result to COVID is an unexpected increase in consumers. ”Although people are advised to stay indoors, more customers have been coming,“said Jose, another employee at Wendy’s. Despite multiple recommendations from California’s health department, people continue to visit local restaurants for pick-up, drive thru, or outside seating, all of which are good for businesses.
“Restaurants have had a hard time adjusting to COVID-19” is a common phrase between different restaurants. There are different ways each restaurant has managed to stay open while abiding the proper precautions.