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A.F. Wendling's employees enjoy some much-deserved downtime during an employee appreciation event that took place Thursday afternoon. / Photo courtesy Scott Buchanan

A.F. Wendling’s Food Service hosts Employee Appreciation Day to thank staff for their tireless work throughout the pandemic

BUCKHANNON – A.F. Wendling’s Food Service recently organized an Employee Appreciation Day to thank them for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Employee Appreciation Day took place Thursday, May 21 with numerous local food vendors attending to reward the Wendling’s staff, including Zul’s and Jaws BBQ.

Amanda Woody, human resources and safety director for A.F. Wendling’s Food Service, said they wanted to show their staff how much they appreciated their work during the pandemic.

“Our employees have worked through this whole pandemic; we did not shut down,” Woody said. “They’ve worked really hard; they’ve made a lot of sacrifices. They’ve came to work every day and served our company and served the community, so we wanted to do something special for them.”

She said their inspiration to invite the vendors came from the canceled Strawberry Festival.

“Strawberry Festival didn’t happen so we were like, ‘What do you like about Strawberry Festival weekend?’ The large majority said, ‘the food trucks, going downtown, getting food, hanging out,’ and I was like, let’s try to do that here,” Woody said. “Let’s see if we can do that on a smaller scale and just enjoy ourselves.”

Scott Buchanan, marketing coordinator for A.F. Wendling’s Food Service, said he hoped the event would help undo some of the stress from operating during the pandemic.

“We wanted to give people something that feels a little bit more like normal,” Buchanan said. “We’re an essential business, we’ve been here from day one, and we’re still here, we’re still open, we’re still serving our customers and our community as best we can, so that doesn’t come without some tradeoffs, and we’re trying to try to help people feel just a little bit better.”

Outside of A.F. Wendling’s Food Service on Employee Appreciation Day.

Woody said the closure of businesses and adjusting to rules of quarantine was an initial shock, but they adapted.

“It was a shock at first – we serve mostly restaurants and restaurants were closed, but we have made changes very quickly with who we serve and how we serve them, and it’s really worked out,” Woody said. “This company is innovative, so we put a lot of new ideas out there and started some new things, and I think it’s worked out pretty well.”

Buchanan said some of those changes included adding online ordering capabilities and curbside pickup.

“Some of this stuff is still here to stay, so we have to maintain that flexibility because there are still opportunities out there and ways that we can help customers who are out there who may be a customer of ours already, or maybe they aren’t our customers yet, but maybe they can benefit from a service that we provide,” Buchanan said.
They’ve also implemented a 12-person maximum rule in the market, barriers in front of the cashiers and they have installed hand sanitizer stations.

“One of the things that we’ve seen is we’ve added a lot of produce items over time as we have things available, so one day we may have asparagus, another we will have strawberries, things like that, but as we are stocking more items than we normally would, I think that we’re listening to our customer base,” Buchanan said.

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