Adapting to a New Normal
by Emily Cheney, Contributing Writer
As campus life adjusts to the new policies, local businesses and restaurants downtown are also struggling to handle the new modifications.
When COVID-19 first hit, businesses began to shut down in order to stay safe. The Homestead, a local business located in downtown Farmington, has been one of many local businesses that has adapted to the pandemic lifestyle.
Kyra Zabel, a fourth-year student at UMF, has been working at The Homestead for two years and describes her struggles. “We closed for a couple months so I was technically out of a job, but when we got back, I was working more than before we closed,” Zabel said. “I had more time and a lot of the staff left because they lived on campus and went home. I was going in at 11:30 and working until close frequently, which is a lot of being consistently on your feet.”
Between trying to keep everything clean and the customers happy, dealing with backlash is inevitable. “Most of our customers are really respectful, but especially during lunch, there are always people who feel the need to complain and make comments about having to wear a mask,” Zabel said.
Working in any sort of local business has become significantly stressful during these past months. For restaurants, employees are much more attentive, working with food and constantly cleaning tables, one after the other, “To maximize time before, we used to be able to have all of our tables close to each other, but now we have to sanitize and wash our hands in between people, and it’s so much more time-consuming.” Zabel said.
Looking from the customer’s perspective, Farmington resident Emma Petersson shared her recent experience with dining at the Homestead. “Besides the extra sanitation precautions, I cannot say that I noticed a difference in how things are run,” Petersson said. “I would definitely say they are more on top of things as the dining area is more spread out and staff is enforcing and maintaining strict sanitation practices.”
The tables are already spread out making social distancing easy to maintain for those who are dining. “The staff has been very kind and considerate, but firm with boundaries,” Petersson said.
Though Zabel said that she has dealt with some very rude customers who complain about wearing masks, Petersson said that from a customer’s point of view, she did not see anyone being insolent about masks while she was there. “I didn’t interact with other customers, but they were all wearing masks when walking to or from their table which I appreciated,” said Petersson.