The COVID-19 outbreak has forced restaurant operators around Parkland and Coral Springs to come to a decision on whether or not they should remain open or temporarily shut down. All restaurants in Florida have transitioned to delivery, drive-throughs or curbside pickups, offering no sit-in dining options for their customers.
Businesses such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle and other restaurants prohibit eating inside. If there is a drive-through, customers can only order food through it.
For some restaurants that do not offer a drive-through, customers may order inside and take their food to-go or pick up an order that they have made online or over the phone. At nearly all restaurants, customers are not allowed to sit in and eat, and oftentimes, customers must stay at least six feet away from each other. In various restaurants, chairs are removed to completely eliminate the option of sitting.
Bolay, an all organic and gluten-free restaurant, opened in Coral Springs on Friday, Feb. 21. The restaurant rose in popularity amongst locals due to its tremendous advertising. Before the pandemic, customers were able to order food and dine inside or outside near a fire pit. Now, the only option for hungry consumers is to pick up an order and take it to-go.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Leah Golberg has been working at Bolay since its opening. She works in the front, creating bowls filled with various bases, veggies, proteins, add-ons and sauces for customers. Goldberg has decided to take a break from working until the virus is under control.
“There is a significant drop in customers coming into the store, which in turn is allowing less employees to work,” Golberg said. “After weighing the pros and cons of working during this time, I realized it wasn’t worth putting my family or myself at risk for contracting the virus. While working, I would be interacting with a multitude of people and didn’t want to be in fear the entire shift.”
Another restaurant, Pho 79, a Vietnamese-based eatery located in Coral Springs, is requiring its employees to wear gloves and masks while serving their customers.
“We are not able to serve food in the restaurant as much as before and we have to take extra precautions,” senior Julianna Gatlin, who is a Pho 79 employee, said. “Our number of customers has increased since we started serving free meals. Before, we only had a few people coming in due to COVID-19.”
The restaurant started a free meal program in which anyone in the area can obtain a fresh and hot meal for free from 3 P.M. to 6 P.M. daily.
Although many people have stopped going out to eat due to the virus, others have continued to support their favorite local businesses by purchasing food from them. Many people feel safe taking their food to-go because restaurants are required to follow specific health codes in order to maintain a protected and healthy workplace.
“I am not that worried about coming in contact with someone with the disease,” senior Hailey Carpenter said. “I have the same risk of getting it if I go to the store to buy food to make.”
On the other hand, others would rather stay inside their homes and cook for themselves. Individuals can cook meals with the satisfaction of knowing what has been done to their food.
“I am doing everything I can to stay home and slow down the spread of the virus,” junior Rahat Ali said. “I used to go out to eat every week, but I am practicing social distancing now, in order to flatten the curve. Someone at the restaurant I go to could possibly have it and not realize it; they can then give it to me and jeopardize my health without even knowing.”
To feel more at ease, a number of people would rather be safe than sorry by staying inside their homes and eating there. For those who do not fear the possibility of contracting the virus, ordering and picking up food serves to be no problem.