By Marissa Santarlasci
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Working at a restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic is very stressful with trying to balance the increase of to-go orders and deliveries and trying to stay healthy by wearing masks and gloves but also providing people the food they need.
I have worked at Carrabba’s Italian Grill for almost three years and have never experienced so many to-go pickup orders and deliveries daily as I am experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Carrabba’s has always offered to-go pickup and deliveries, this pandemic is not the reason we do to-go orders but it is the reason we are so busy.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrabba’s had roughly 30 to-go orders on a weekday night and about 60 on a weekend night. These numbers have almost doubled during the pandemic. On a normal weekday, two people worked on carside (one driver, one carside server) and on the weekend, four worked on carside. Now, three people work on carside on weekdays and five or six on weekends. Unfortunately, the restaurant is still not doing as much business as it had when the dining room was open but carside has picked up in sales.
There are several ways to order food from Carrabba’s. People can either call or place the order online at the restaurant’s website or order through a third-party website. Third party websites that we are partnered with are UberEats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Carrabba’s was partnered with these third-party websites before the pandemic but it is getting many more orders through them now.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrabba’s has expanded its delivery significantly. Before the pandemic, the delivery area was roughly a 5-mile or 10-minute radius. Now, it is roughly 15 miles and up to 30 minutes. Many customers are very happy with this because they were never in the delivery area before. The only downfall is there is a longer wait time for customers who order delivery because many people are ordering it. On a Saturday night, I sometimes must quote a person two hours of a wait time if they order a delivery because of the high demand, whereas before, it would usually take only an hour maximum.
My hours were reduced slightly during the pandemic. I used to work between 30 and 40 hours a week. Now I am working between 15 and 25 hours a week. Part of the reason for this is because we close earlier than we did before.
It is mandatory for all my coworkers and myself to wear a facemask and gloves during every shift. We must dispose of our gloves after encountering each customer. This helps avoid cross-contamination. It is important that I wear a facemask and gloves because I encounter many customers daily and I want to stay as safe as I can.
I am very lucky still to be working during this difficult time but I will say it is definitely scary to think about the number of customers I have encountered.