The line wrapped around the store, outside of the building and up the stairs. Noon to 1 p.m. is the busiest hour of the day, and the influx of people is common. What is uncommon, though, are the masks, signs and plexiglass separating the employees and the customers.
Joshwin Raju has been working for Sodexo for the past two years, specifically in the Chick-fil-a Express branch. Throughout his time there, Chick-fil-A has always been busy, but COVID-19 has created new challenges for them. Today, the restaurant has posters up informing students to practice social distancing, along with distance markers on the floor and a new rule stating that only 20 people are allowed inside at once. Employees wear masks and take orders from behind plexiglass while enforcing the strict “no mask, no food” policy.
“There have been students who do not wear their mask properly while standing in line, and when they get to the front, we have to ask them to leave,” stated Raju. All of the Sodexo branches on campus enforce this strict mask policy, sometimes to the chagrin of the students.
Raju recalled a particular instance when a student grew angry with them for enforcing their 20 person limit.
“Even after we apologized for enforcing the measures on him, he looked really angry. We often get different angry looks from customers,” said Raju. The COVID-19 preventative measures have been an adjustment for the students and employees both.
The meal trade options have also been an adjustment. Chick-fil-A has four different options for a Sodexo meal trade, and the hours are noon to 2:30 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
“The meal trade hasn’t made Chick-fil-A any busier, just slower,” according to Raju. They can only take orders one at a time and give it out immediately, so the line moves slower. It also takes longer to ring up a mealtrade option, which Raju says is the main issue. At the beginning of the semester, the meal trade was especially difficult.
“We have to press the mealtrade button, then also type in the names of the people, which we don’t do now, and we also had to write down Z numbers and names,” said Raju. Now, they do not ask for Z numbers, but the process for ringing up a mealtrade is still longer than the original way.
One year ago, Chick-fil-A was crowded inside and meal trade was not on the menu. Students and employees both had no masks. The only concern for students was getting the line through the building as fast as possible, and the only concern for employees was how long the line was. Now, getting through the line is still the main objective, but there are more obstacles to go through.
“I appreciate the measures,” said Raju. “But the policies do slow us down. I just want things to go back to normal.”