Practice social distancing, implement self-quarantine, wash your hands, don’t touch your face—these are phrases we have heard multiple times a day for the past month.
However, a new phrase has entered our thoughts: contactless delivery.
With recent coronavirus restrictions, consumers have wondered how they can stay safe while going out to eat. Now they don’t have to wonder, or even go out to have a meal.
Restaurants throughout Oxford have either partnered with food delivery platforms (BiteSquad, DoorDash, Uber Eats) or they’ve implemented their own form of contactless delivery.
Joshua Dwyer, 22, is the senior assistant manager at Domino’s Pizza on University Avenue. He has been working there for almost three years.
Dwyer currently works the night shift, which starts around 5 p.m. During his shift, he makes pizza and pasta, handles any customer concerns, answers the phones, and monitors the delivery drivers.
“I have to make sure that (employees) get the correct schedule, that everybody feels that they’re in a comfortable work environment no matter what their background is, and that our customers who come in feel welcome, that their food is correct, and that they can always get a good meal no matter what they spend.”
Domino’s delivery drivers are responsible for delivering food to customers through contactless delivery, which is always available to any customers.
According to Dwyer, the contactless delivery process is as follows: the delivery driver calls the customer to let them know they have arrived at the specified location, then brings the food to the customer while staying the required six feet away.
They put a hot bag on the ground, place the food container and receipt on top of it, then step six feet back to prevent any contact with the customer, who then steps forward to claim their order and sign the receipt.
Once the customer leaves, the driver then retrieves the hot bag and returns to the store. At the store, the driver immediately washes their hands or sanitizes before they leave for the next order.
Dwyer explained that Domino’s already follows strict sanitation requirements, and that they have only increased the increments in which they conduct them. For example, they now sanitize and clean the entire store multiple times a day, including phones and any touchscreen devices.
“We’re already a very clean company,” he said, “but we’ve increased our caution . . . and are making sure that both our customers and our employees stay healthy and that nothing is transmitted through delivery and carry out of food.”
Dwyer also noted that employees are required to wash their hands any time they move between workstations.
“If we go from making the food to cutting the food,” he said, “we wash our hands. If we go from cutting the food to helping a customer, we wash our hands. . . . Any time that anything happens in the store, there’s a sanitation station that’s hit in between.”
Domino’s is only doing carry-out delivery at this time. Dwyer says this is to ensure that nobody is staying inside the store for long periods of time who could potentially transmit the virus. He also noted that Domino’s leaves their doors open during the business day so that people don’t need to touch the door on their way in and out.
The most important thing that Dwyer wants customers to know is that Domino’s is doing everything they can to keep their customers and employees healthy and safe.
“We are staying clean. We already had such strict regulations, and now on top of that, we’re making sure everything we’ve received is properly handled and everything we use has been properly cleaned.”
Papa John’s is another restaurant in Oxford that has adopted a contactless delivery system. Ashley Popps, 25, is a manager at Papa John’s. She has been working there for two years.
The biggest lesson Popps has learned from her job is patience. Almost as soon as the store opens, she’s on her feet answering calls.
“Customers start calling (around) 10:30 a.m., and from then on, we’re standing, maintaining a great store image and making customers happy.”
According to Popps, Papa John’s has seen a decrease in customers due to COVID-19: “We’re not as busy. There’s not as many deliveries (or) student orders.”
In a recent email to customers, Papa John’s stated, “From our 450-degree oven, to box, to you, it’s our policy that your pizza is never touched once it comes out of the oven. And we’re taking extra steps, like ‘No Contact Delivery,’ to ensure it.”
Papa John’s contactless delivery system works in a similar way to Domino’s. The driver arrives, puts the food on a hot bag, then steps back six feet to allow the customer to claim their order.
According to Popps, Papa John’s has also implemented other rules to help combat the spread of the virus.
“Every morning, each employee must take their temperature before clocking in to make sure there’s no (fever),” Popps said. “If we hear you cough, you must go home immediately. We’re not allowing anyone in the store, (but) only on the curb to get their carry-out order.”
She further noted that employees wear ventilator masks and gloves while working, and they wipe down all surfaces in the store with sanitizer wipes constantly in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment.
Popps explained that the most important thing for Papa John’s right now is the health of their employees and the satisfaction of their customers.
“We’re trying to keep our staff healthy,” she said, “and we strive to give (customers) great quality food and products.”
Another restaurant in Oxford that has adopted the contactless system is Sonic. However, instead of delivery, they offer contactless ordering and payment options.
Michael Williams, 27, is an assistant manager at Sonic on Jackson Avenue. He has worked at this location for eight months, but has worked with Sonic for a total of five years.
According to Williams, Sonic has seen an increase in customers lately because most sit-in restaurants in town have closed, whereas Sonic is a drive-up, drive-thru restaurant.
While customers don’t actually walk in and sit down to eat, Williams said Sonic is still committed to keeping everything clean.
“We’re still following the same procedures we always follow as far as cleanliness and washing your hands every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, so nothing really changed in that way,” Williams said. “Of course, you’re worried about every little cough you hear, but there’s precautions and we follow the procedures and stay (up-to-date) with the symptoms (of COVID-19).”
Williams says Sonic has advertised their contactless system in various ways, including by email.
One such email explained that “the SONIC App offers contactless ordering and payment using your smartphone, along with exclusive deals and rewards. Place your order in the app, check in with your stall number, and watch your order’s progress on the menu’s digital screen.”
This system allows customers to order and pay without having to touch the red button at the stalls, which is one way that Sonic is trying to prevent the spread of the virus.
Williams said another action that Sonic has taken to combat the spread of germs is shutting down their patios. He explained that customers usually gather there to socialize and eat together, but that this is temporarily prohibited due to social distancing.
On top of caring for their customers, Williams also explained that Sonic takes just as much care to promote the health of their employees.
“We take no chances with employees,” he said. “If we hear a cough or sneeze or ‘I’m tired’ or that they have a headache, we get them out of here and make sure they’re feeling better (and don’t have a fever) before they come back.”
Williams says he wants customers to know that Sonic is focused on them: “We are here for (the customers). We are not here for monetary gain; we’re here to serve.”
Domino’s is located at 1920 University Avenue. Their hours have changed due to coronavirus restrictions, so they are open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. (the next day); and Friday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (the next day). You can contact them at (662) 236-3844.
Papa John’s is located at 1506 Jackson Avenue West. Due to coronavirus restrictions, Papa John’s hours have changed. They are open every day at 10:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. You can reach them at (662) 234-8648.
Sonic is located at 2000 West Jackson Avenue. Their hours have changed due to coronavirus restrictions, so they are open every day 7 a.m to 10 p.m. You can contact them at (662) 234-8005.
Note: Sonic and Domino’s each have a store on Jackson Avenue and University Avenue. Papa John’s has one location in Oxford.