By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Starbucks on Main Street decided Friday to close for two weeks in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. It had been open for takeout only since Tuesday, following Gov. Gina Raimondo’s order Monday closing all dine-in establishments. (Starbucks Corp. is closing cafes across the U.S. and reducing services to drive thru and delivery only, a spokewoman said.)

For at least one EG Starbucks barista, that was the right call.

For the past several days, she said, customers have entered Starbucks to order and or pick up a mobile order. All tables and chairs had been removed and most customers left with their order quickly, but some people would remain, talking for a while. 

“Numbers are half, but we’re still seeing about 300 people a day,” the barista, who asked to remain anonymous, said Thursday during a phone interview. “We have a very deep commitment to Starbucks – we’re into being Starbucks people,” she said of herself and other staff members.

Starbucks on Main Street had cleared out all tables and chairs before deciding Friday to close completely.

But she said, coming into contact with hundreds of people seeking coffee just didn’t make a lot of sense when contact with others is the primary way the coronavirus is spreading. She noted that she has a close family member with health problems and she didn’t feel right going to visit now. 

“We didn’t sign up to be on the front line just to serve people coffee,” she said. On Friday, after the closure was announced, the barista said she was glad. It makes it easier too because Starbucks will be providing disaster pay for Main Street employees.

“As a collective community, we need to be reminded … of what really is essential and what we have as privileges,” she said.

SOME RESTAURANTS ARE HANDLING TAKEOUT AT A DISTANCE. At Siena on Post Road, customers are asked to call in their order and pay using a credit card (including adding a gratuity if desired). Then, for pickup, Siena has you wait in your car, phone in that you have arrived, and they will give you a number that corresponds with one of the small tables set up outside. An employee brings out your meal, puts it on a table, goes back inside and then you get your meal. 

That might be a luxury some smaller outlets can’t pull off. For one thing, Siena has a covered entrance with plenty of room to set up tables. And customers must pay by card. 

At Ed’s Roost on Main Street, which is open from 8 to noon, you call in your order, then there is a table set up just inside the entrance where transactions of cash or card are taken and food is given out. Conspicuous on the table behind the front table are two large containers of Clorox wipes.

Find out what restaurants are offering takeout during the dine-in closure HERE.



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