Students dismissed from local restaurant jobs


Rachel Cohen

Due to the coronavirus, It’s Greek To Me in Westwood has lost revenue and sent workers home, including juniors Emily Sohl and Julie Allmers. Pompilio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Westwood and Francesca’s Pizza & Pasta in River Vale are also limiting their staff.

Isabella Zuluaga, Staff Editor

Junior Julie Allmers remembers making a presentation for her American Studies class about the coronavirus before school closed. 

“Everyone thought ‘it’s not coming here,’ and now we might not even go back to school,” Allmers said. “It was not [if it came] to New Jersey, it was when.” 

Rachel Cohen
The dine-in side of Pompilio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Westwood closed around March 16. The pizzeria, however, is open and has its staff home unless workers are needed.

The pandemic has not only moved school instruction online, but students who work at restaurants in the area have been temporarily dismissed.

Trey Patunas, the manager of It’s Greek To Me in Westwood, said the restaurant has lost revenue and sent staff members home, including junior Emily Sohl and Allmers who are waitresses, because of the “stay at home order” that banned all gatherings and shut down nonessential businesses on March 21. 

“I’m not getting paid for leave, so I’m basically not working at all,” Sohl said. “We are still open, but that doesn’t apply to my job.”

Patunas said that they are bringing back all the staff members once restaurants are allowed to have patrons dine-in again. Currently, only four people are working. 

“We are only really somewhat busy at night time,” Patunas said. “Since we have the inside closed, the waiters and waitresses are home because they wouldn’t have anything to do. We don’t have as many orders anymore, so we only have two cooks working.”

For Pompilio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Westwood, the dine-in side of the restaurant was closed around March 16. The pizzeria, however, has its staff home unless they need workers to fill in. Junior Valerie Merlino, who is a waitress at Pompilio’s, said that there is a “skeleton crew” that has been working.

“For the most part, I’m not really working, and people are just being called in when they need them,” Merlino said. “It’s weird because I’m used to working.”

Merlino said the coronavirus has made business for Pompilio’s difficult, but the staff is still trying to operate and carry out things as “normally as they can be.”

“For pickup, we give them the food by the door,” Merlino said. “We set up a table outside to bring it to them. For delivery, there’s a no-contact option or a curbside pickup.”

Ever since the pandemic reached New Jersey, Merlino said more customers wear masks and gloves to pick up their food orders. 

“When [the coronavirus] was new, I would see a couple of people wear masks, but the week after they cancelled school, I’ve been seeing a lot of people with masks and gloves,” Allmers said. 

Rachel Cohen
Francesca’s Pizza & Pasta in River Vale gave its staff the opportunity to work and also call out. There is only one person who answers the phone and one who delivers.

Sohl said she feels bad for the people who are losing their jobs that need them to support themselves or their families.

“I don’t have a job, but I’m lucky because I don’t really rely on that,” Sohl said. “In that aspect, I’m not worried, but everything else going on is scary.”

In River Vale, Francesca’s Pizza & Pasta gave their staff the opportunity to work and also call out.

“The days I worked, I offered it to anyone that wanted to work,” said Allmers, who is also a hostess at Francesca’s. “As of now, I’m not going to work until all this is over unless I have to go in.”

Allmers said “everything is going to be different” after the pandemic and people are going to be eerie about going out. 

“We might not come out of this the same way we entered,” Allmers said.