Fast Food Restaurant adapts to COVID-19 in the ‘Burg

Gabriel Strasbaugh, Staff Reporter

As COVID-19 swept the nation and shut down multiple places of establishment, one thing that stayed strong was the empire that is fast food. CWU students and Ellensburg residents immediately drew toward the simplicity and ease of getting a hot meal and getting a chance to be outside of the house. 

Crew trainer Lexi Harkrider said she was fortunate enough to earn employment last April with one of the more popular restaurants in town, McDonald’s.

“I started in April, so it was when the virus had already started,” Harkrider said. 

Harkrider said her restaurant has begun a slow but steady process of opening more. 

“We’re finally coming into the lobby opening up for people to come in and grab take out food which is something we haven’t done yet. But they have the plastic shields in front of the registers so there’s a one-way path through the store. They seem to be prepared,” Harkrider said.  

Employees saw a new feature of their benefits working during the pandemic. 

“We can get a free medium size meal for our shift,” Harkrider said. “We also get crew benefits where we can order whatever we want and it’s 50% off. They changed the rules because of [COVID-19] where you can take it home to help people out. Originally, you weren’t able to take any free or 50 percent off food home,” Harkrider said. “So, this was to help families out.”

Some leniencies have been a new development during Harkrider’s shift. 

“It’s become a little more relaxed,” Harkrider said. “We have had a [COVID-19] outbreak in the store before, but they didn’t make it like a big deal. They found the person, watched the tapes to see who was in close contact with them so they can notify those people.” 

Harkrider said that she appreciates the responsibility the owners have shown for her and her coworkers.

“They have all the normal regulations; gloves, masks, hand washing every hour, temperatures when you come in the building,” Harkrider said. 

According to Harkrider, employees are not allowed to come behind the counter until their temperature has been taken.

When restaurants were ordered to close, Harkrider said McDonald’s doors closed not allowing anyone in but employees. Noting the number of guests, she said it was not a major change to her.

According to CNN Business, McDonald’s numbers increased across the nation. McDonald’s statement in January noted a 5.5% rise in sales. Some of the restaurants continue to follow the same suit as the one in Ellensburg.