The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on local restaurants


Illustration by Eli Weitzman ('20)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local restaurants are now in limbo when it comes to normal service.

The unknown is a very scary thing. The Coronavirus has caused many people, businesses, stores and restaurants to fear what’s coming next. It has also affected many normal day activities. There are wide school closures, cancellations of events, and many businesses are temporarily shutting their doors. One category of businesses that has especially been hit hard, are restaurants.

Some restaurants felt like it was best to close their entire business, while others have only been doing take out and delivery. Some Cherry Hill restaurants that have been offering take out and delivery are Ponzios, Seasons Pizza, Short Hills Deli and more. Three additional restaurants/fast food chains that have been offering takeout include Redstone, Chick-fil-a and Shangri La. These three restaurants talk about the struggles they’ve experienced these past couple of weeks.

The manager of Shangrila, Yen Li, talks about how he and his staff have been staying safe while at work. He said, “Anyone is allowed to wear masks if they please and they can change/use as many pairs of gloves as they please. We are definitely making sure no one is coming into work if they feel any kind of sick. We are also making sure customers come into our restaurants two at a time.”

Many sit-down restaurants are losing business, but what about restaurants like Chick-fil-a who received most of their income from their drive throughs?

Owner of the Chick-fil-a in Cherry Hill, Rich Reiner, explained how Chick-fil-a’s sales have been affected by the Coronavirus. He said, “We have seen a decline of 50-60 percent in daily sales since the middle of March…Profits are [also] very low. But we know this will not last forever, and better days are ahead.”

Not only are Rich Reiner and his team trying to stay positive, but Reiner gives free meals to all of his staff and free kids meals for them to take home to their kids.

Redstone American Grill needed time to come up with a plan to decide what they would do if they had to close or work tight hours. Regional Office Manager Laura Peterson said, “We closed the restaurant entirely for about two weeks while forming a plan to execute Curbside pickup effectively. We needed to work as few days as we could to avoid getting sick.”
All three restaurants have majorly changed the way they serve their food and their behaviors in the restaurant. Li said, “We wipe down surfaces and wash our hands more frequently. We have out hand sanitizer for us and customers. It’s shocking that we see people become “more sanitary” because this virus came around but people should have already been sanitary.”

Restaurants everywhere are being hit hard by the virus due to people not leaving their homes or making their own food. The restaurants that are open are relying on people to take out food, or else their business could be in jeopardy. But, most importantly, restaurant workers are trying to stay safe, and keep their business up and running all at the same time.