How The Newest Round of Quarantine has Affected Restaurants Employees

Katherine Portillo, Photographer

No big restaurant chain or tiny mom & pop shop is safe from the effects of the pandemic. In the early winter of 2020, the CDC came out with another set of regulations (including a second round of quarantine) stating no indoor or outdoor dining. The only way for these restaurants to stay afloat is to go menus or delivery apps.


During the summer of 2020, the city of Downey saw COVID numbers start to slowly decrease, restaurants were given the green light to open for outdoor dining. Many restaurants, in Downey, have relied on outdoor dining during this time and invested a lot of money to buy tents and tables suitable for the outdoors. 


Downey High School student, Emily Repereza, 12, speaks on her experience when working at Pita GR.


“We prepared so much for outdoor eating, and we were so psyched when we were finally able to have our guests eat at our restaurant and are hoping to reopen it soon,” Repreza continued, “Our indoor dining area takes up more than half our restaurant space, so it’s very lonely without people there.”


Delivery apps such as Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub have more than doubled in profit since the start of the first quarantine in March  2020. These apps charge the restaurant a commission between 15%-30% (depending on the contract the restaurant signs the app) for every order. 


Baskin-Robbins employee, Ashley Merrifield, spoke on delivery apps in her place of work.


“We have these tablets that we use for DoorDash and Uber eats, throughout my daily shift they go on non-stop with orders from both those apps,” Merrifield spoke. “Even the nights when no one is coming in we are still unbelievably busy with these [delivery] orders.”


Some restaurants, unfortunately, are not able to stay open but if they are able to, they might be having to let go of all of their employees. Some restaurants in Downey, such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Mimi’s Cafe, only have the owner and a head chef working at this time.


 Audrey Nowak, a server at Buffalo Wild Wings spoke on how her job has been affected by this.


“Right now I’m not working because all we are providing is to-go orders and it’s just the manager doing all of them, [there is] no need for any waiters or waitresses,” Nowak stated. “We are all hoping for a call back once this is all over.”


There is no doubt the restaurant business has taken a huge hit due to the pandemic. The only way to keep up is by having contracts with delivery apps and an access to go menu. With the new COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps American citizens will finally be able to eat inside restaurants and seek some sense of normalcy.