Olivia Robertson, 21

Server, Carolina Coffee Shop in Chapel Hill, UNC grad ’20

How long were you home from work, and what prompted you to go back?

We closed about a week after spring break, and we just opened back up [on May 23]. Phase 2 started on Friday at 5:00 p.m., and we opened the next Saturday. We were closed for that long, and I ended up getting a different job because I pay my own rent and everything. I did that, and then I wanted to come back because I’ve worked at Carolina Coffee Shop for almost two years, and it’s my home. Since I’ll be here all summer, I figured I’d go back and get my last few months there before I move on at the end of the summer.

How safe do you feel at work? 

I feel like we as a restaurant are taking all of the necessary precautions to make sure that ourselves and the guests are as safe as possible during their dining experience. But there are times where guests won’t follow the six-feet-apart rule or they won’t wear a mask when ordering and all that kind of stuff. But overall, I feel safe.

What sort of precautions is the restaurant taking?

We don’t use physical menus unless they’re requested. We have QR code menus now to kind of reduce contact. We sanitize pens after every use. We don’t keep any of the regular condiments on the table—the salt and pepper shakers and the sugar caddies, we don’t keep those on the table, and if someone requests them, we clean them off after every guest. We only seat guests six feet apart, so every other booth, and we also cleared out the entire middle section to allow for social distancing. There are a million other things—like, we provide the employees with masks and gloves.

Is there any sort of testing going on?

Yeah. Every time an employee comes in, we have screening questions that we got from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. They ask, like, “Do you have a fever?” “Have you been in contact with anyone testing positive for COVID-19 or the symptoms?” “Do you have A, B, and C symptoms?” We also have the infrared thermometer, which you just point at someone’s forehead and it takes their temperature without having to actually touch them. We take every employee’s temperature at the start of their shift.

What do you do if a customer is not wearing a mask? 

Because there’s not a policy in North Carolina or Chapel Hill—like there is in Durham—that you have to wear a mask, so we can’t turn them away. But if there is someone who doesn’t have a mask on, we do try to just keep our distance, take their order from six feet away, all that stuff. 

What’s something that you’d like customers to know? 

I want them to know that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that everyone is safe. Because I know a lot of people are still scared about going to restaurants—which, I mean, honestly, I am about going out in public in general. I think as long as they know that if they decide to go out to a restaurant, we are being safe and we are doing what we can to make sure that all of our employees are healthy and there’s no chance that we will give it to a guest—which, you never know if there’s that chance, but we are trying our best to reduce that likelihood. 

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