If you live in California, you know our Governor Gavin Newsom made it mandatory for all restaurants to be open for take out only. Throwback to when we could sit down at a restaurant and enjoy our meal. However, we are still in a pandemic *sigh.* So you want to know what it was like to work at a restaurant during a pandemic? This was my experience.
Like many college students, I had a part-time job during the summer working at a small restaurant in the midst of downtown in my hometown. I have worked in the restaurant service industry for over three years, but this time it was much different than I was ever used to. In the summer, restaurants were open for outdoor dining only. No one was allowed to be inside except for employees and if a customer wanted to use the restroom (while wearing a mask of course).
Every Thursday through Sunday, the downtown street was closed so restaurants could expand their seating arrangements. This meant the morning shift on Thursday would bring all the tables and chairs outside, and the Sunday night shift would bring back all the tables and chairs inside. It was like clock work. I worked night shifts on the weekends and let me say it was busy, especially during the start of football season.
My shift started with getting my temperature checked, grabbing a disposable mask, and washing my hands (multiple times). I would then check to see where my section was for the remainder of the night. There were no more physical copies of the menus, it was a QR code that can be scanned through your phone. You’d be surprised how many people struggled with trying to get it to work. There was also a strict code of parties of no more than six people per table. Many customers complained saying they did not want to separate with their families. The hostess would reiterate multiple times how it is the restaurant's rule given the situation we are in.
Everyone had to wear a mask. The only time customers could take off their masks was when they sat down at their tables, other than that they had to keep it on. By the way, the mask goes over your nose people!!! Working in a mask was tough, people would get frustrated when they couldn’t hear me talk but there was nothing I could do except to speak louder. By the end of my shift, my voice was gone. Huge shoutout to all the healthcare workers who spend countless hours wearing masks! You are all true heroes.
Working in the restaurant industry during a pandemic was definitely difficult dealing with customers, management and even the progression of COVID-19. I truly hope things progress in the future and we can all return to some normalcy soon.