Sam Hebron, a Peace a Pizza employee walked into work to an empty restaurant. Usually there are customers enjoying their lunch, but times are different. As she gets ready for her shift, she puts her mask on, washes her hands, puts on her gloves, and starts to prepare the ingredients for the day.
Everyone has been struggling since the pandemic started from people losing their jobs, to people having to file for unemployment. Some people in particular who have been struggling the most are people who own or run a small business. Since they do not have a lot or any revenue coming in, some of them are forced to close down or go out of business.
Peace a Pizza is a small business located in Catonsville. Peace a Pizza is a local pizza shop that sells a variety of pizza from plain cheese to a slice they like to call “Mac and Cheese.” Since the pandemic started, they have not closed. Owner, Sally Grace, talked about how her shop came to the decision to stay open during this difficult time and about the process she went through to ensure that she was doing the best thing for her company and employees.
“This was definitely a difficult decision to make, but after talking to my dad who is a doctor and my husband, we all decided that we could make it work by staying open,” Grace said. She then talked about how the company came up with their policies for COVID saying, “we developed our policies by following what the governor and CDC said plus input from doctors and the employees.”
Grace came to the conclusion to not allow any indoor dining and provided curbside pick-up while allowing customers to eat outside at their picnic tables. She also made masks mandatory for all employees and sanitizes everything after use. At the beginning of the pandemic, Grace made it to where customers were not allowed in the restaurant at all and strictly made all orders curb side with the exception of delivery. Now, as cases have gone down, she has allowed for customers to come back into the restaurant to order, but still does not allow anyone to eat inside. She has been taking all of the precautions of making sure her employees are healthy and is still able to gain revenue and business during this pandemic.
James Middleton, a manager at Peace a Pizza talked about how he was adapting to the new norm at work. Middleton said, “having to wear a mask at work the whole time I am here is definitely different and I had to get used to it. Other than that work is the same with the exception of no one eating inside.” Middleton then went on to say, “Sally has done a really good job with putting our safety first and making sure that we can still provide business to everyone while staying safe.”
Another employee named Sam Hebron talked about how she is adapting to the new working conditions. Hebron said, “it has been different to not see anyone in the restaurant at all, but we have still been able to get our hours in and not have to file for unemployment.” This was important for Hebron as she expressed that she did not want to have to file for unemployment and go through that long process. Hebron went on to say, “we are still able to do some of our fun activities like bingo, sell specialty cupcakes, and give out different kits like our pizza making kit and our cookie kit. We just have to do them outside with social distancing.”
During Halloween, Peace a Pizza usually holds an annual trunk or treat where families can dress up, decorate their cars, and trick or treat around the parking lot to other cars. There are usually prizes given out to the best dressed family and most creative car and is usually a fun-filled event. Due to the virus, this event had to be canceled, but Grace has been able to find different ways to still include families in the Halloween spirit.
Instead, the restaurant made sure that all curbside orders would be delivered their food by a dressed-up employee to still allow the families to experience a Peace a Pizza Halloween. She also allowed any kids who dressed up in their costumes to ride through and get candy from dressed-up employees since they cannot do trunk or treat.
Since Peace a Pizza has changed their work environment and taken on these new challenges, they have not had any problems with employees getting or coming in contact with the virus. They have not had to get any of their employees tested and they hope to keep it that way.
This is just one example of the innovative techniques many businesses across Maryland have developed to try to maintain revenue during the 2020 Pandemic.