Working in Restaurants During COVID-19

2020 has been filled with bad times and setbacks because of the pandemic and the racial injustice of Black people in America. Restaurants were specifically setback and had to adjust accordingly to new pandemic  guidelines. Paetyn Wyble and Kameron LeBlanc, two "awesome"  UL History Seniors and restaurant workers, have worked tirelessly to compile an exhibit of how restaurant workers and employers have handled these setbacks. 

Please click the following image to view 10 screenshots from a work group chat detailing schedule changes, hour cuts, and other procedures put in place due to the pandemic. 

Working as a Waitress with a Mask

Brianna Frawley, a UL history student, expresses frustations over wearing a mask at her restaurant job in New Iberia. "I literally felt like I was dying because my face is ridiculously sensitive, and it was burning, but I couldn't take it off. The drive-thru was so busy too, since no one could come inside."

Chick Fil A Food Safety Sign

This sign was placed on the kitchen door of the restaurant in late April. It explains to please not come into work if you're feeling sick to prevent any kind of spread to other employees. 

Selfie: Poké Geaux's First Day Open Again During the Pandemic

This was the first day my place of work opened back up, after closing for a week during the height of the pandemic. The rest of the managers and I decided to follow what many other restaurants were doing and went with strictly curbside pick-up. We set up a tent outside and I was tasked with giving customers with face coverings a paper to fill out what they would like to order.

Chick Fil A Manual Double Drive Thru After Dining Room Closes

While this location has utilized outside order taking for three years, the closure of the dining room resulted in an overwhelming and unstable influx of car traffic. The parking lot was no longer needed, so with the help of around 350 traffic cones, the double lane was born. 

Employess take orders on foot, equipped with iPads, credit card readers, and mini receipt printers. This allows us to take orders from the entire length of the parking lot. 

Pre-pandemic, our record for cars-per-hour was around 185. With the help of the double drive thru, our record is now at 250! 

"I was working, and I look to my left and there are just a ton of people walking down Ambassador with signs protesting against police violence.

It was powerful, I wanted to leave my shift and participate"

Kameron LeBlanc after witnessing a protest outside his workplace. 

Chick Fil A Workers in Facemasks

The dining room of the Louisiana Avenue Chick Fil A closed in March of 2020. Since then, workers have been able to make full use of the dining room. 

Shown in the photo, from left to right, are Kaeli Williams, Sydney Bunting, and Carlie Caruso. 

Daniel Tate, a Line-Server at Poké Geaux Gives a Thumbs-Up After a Long Shift.

Daniel Tate, a Line-Server at Poké Geaux gives a thumbs-up after a long shift. Poké Geaux now allows customers inside the restaurant but only at 50% capacity, Everyone, including customers and workers must wear masks.

"Working during the pandemic has slowed down the industry.

Back in June we started working inside the building again alongside the huge tent outside. It was super sketchy at first because of the high amount of clientele we have, so when we first got the building back up, people poured in and we were  at max capacity. We had less tables, but the bar was super packed, and it created a social distancing issue. Personally I was super uncomfortable going back because the older generation of Lafayette refused to give a shit about a serious issue. Still to this day they don’t care and it’s a little disheartening. Now, we are working like nothing happened, maybe a few tables less in some spots of the restaurant but it just feels like we are running like nothing happened. The mask literally just feels like a part of my uniform now.

Unfortunately, nothing is really enforced and that’s just about anywhere you go, whether it’s a restaurant or grocery store. Masks help but it’s not the saving grace. Temps aren’t being checked at doors, people still crowd up in the lobby when we are on a wait time and I don’t know how I haven’t caught it yet since being back to work. Everyone has been equally informed about the pandemic, but it’s those who choose their ego and self-righteousness over the safety of themselves and others around them that makes us where we are today. Now we are on the verge of another lockdown. The guidelines are simple and easy to follow. Now all these people suddenly give a shit about their freedom in this seemingly false sense of patriotism and because of that these same people feel like 'a mask is going against my right as an American'. 

Sure Karen...what would like with your steak?" 

Unnamed restaurant server explaining his frustrations with customers not following COVID procedures

Interview with UL History Senior Paetyn Wyble

Paetyn goes into great detail about how her Chick-Fil-A dealt with the pandemic, "We have about 80 employees, a bunch of people had got their hours cut. We do a predure called face to face which is where the employee stands outside and takes orders from the person inside their own vehicle." 

Chick Fil A Worker Carrying Out Contactless Order Procedures

Kaeli Williams is carrying out contactless ordering procedures that include wearing disposable gloves and carrying the food in a container to limit any physical contact between her and the customer. Behind her sits a cart outside the drive thru window where orders are placed to be expodited to vehicles on foot. 

"I’ve worked at a restaurant throughout the entirety of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The establishment was quick to require all staff members to wear masks, even before the mandate was put into place for the general public. As the standard medical masks became harder to come by, many people began using cotton masks or even making their own, which resulted in unique patterns that allowed everyone to express themselves. I started to notice more and more people come into the restaurants, both customers and staff, with masks that made political statements.

As you could guess, it caused for some tension between individuals with different beliefs. Because of this, our management banned us from wearing masks with any type of words at all on them. Still many of the kitchen workers still wear masks with Black Lives Matter slogans on them, while the other servers, hostesses and busboys who interact with customers are not allowed to. It goes to show that there is still a lot of unrest and hostility within our community concerning the BLM movement."

Waitress B.H. explaining her restaurant's wordless face mask policy. 

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