Work it!: Small businesses employ students amid pandemic


Isabella Guadamuz

Junior Francesca Dessert stands outside her workplace, Cupini’s. She works on busy Saturday nights to make money and to help her community.

Isabella Guadamuz, Staff Writer

The clock strikes four on a Saturday afternoon, and the madness begins. Cupini’s has just begun to get busy as customers pour in from various parts of the city. The workers diligently wait for the shift to pick up the pace. The distant smell of both lasagna and garlic bread fill the air as orders rapidly come in. This is what a small business looks like on a busy day.
Junior Francesca Dessert works at Cupini’s in Westport in her spare time. Dessert said she takes pride in working for a local business.
“I think the best part of working for a small business is the community and warmth that I feel every time I clock in,” Dessert said. “The Cupini’s have always been so kind to me, and more understanding than I could ever ask for from a boss.”
Dessert said that feels valued beyond just work and business at Cupini’s.
“We love sharing memories about St. Agnes, as their son goes there, and overall they have always been interested in how I’m doing in school and my personal life,” Dessert said.
Dessert said she enjoys taking responsibility behind the register as a cashier and making new connections as a server when she works on Saturday nights.
“I enjoy interacting with customers and just establishing connections with people and the restaurant,” Dessert said. “In general, I prefer working weekends, when the restaurant is bustling with families, delicious food, and hectic yet positive energy.”
Like most things during the pandemic, the restaurant has undergone drastic changes in the way it operates. However, Dessert remains positive about staying in business.
“COVID hit the restaurant hard, and it was an adjustment to figure out how we were going to reach our customers during the pandemic,” Dessert said. “But for years the Cupini’s have had a really good take-out system set up, and we have had so many regulars who have kept us busy and in business, since COVID began.”
Dessert encourages families, students and faculty of Bishop Miege to support Cupini’s during an uncertain time.
“Students and families should come to Cupini’s because we have an amazing family environment, and all the food is at a very affordable price,” Dessert said. “The service is very friendly, and you’ll get a unique spin on traditional Italian food with anything you order.”
Dessert has worked at Cupini’s for almost three years now and has several recommendations for newcomers.
“I recommend the sausage and fennel ravioli, as well as the tomato and mozzarella salad and the passion fruit mousse cake,” Dessert said.
Dessert gives helpful tips and tricks to anyone struggling to find a job.“
“If you’re a high schooler looking for a job, I would definitely recommend working with a local smaller business, not a chain,” Dessert said. “They are much more understanding when it comes to conflicts and creating a connection with employees.”
Sophomore Coleman Murray works at Fairway Creamery down the road from Miege. Murray said working for a small business is a rewarding experience for him.
“The most gratifying part of working in a small business has been the people,” Murray said. “Customers have been a huge plus side for me. I love meeting the customers and just being surrounded by good energy all the time.”
Although the coronavirus has affected Fairway Creamery, Murray contributes to the business in a meaningful way.
“We get less people inside the restaurant, and we aren’t allowed to have people eat inside, which has made it so less people come in,” Murray said. “I really like working over in the ice cream section, but the barista position is pretty simple for me too. I help out wherever I can.”
Because of his dedication to the store, Murray finds that there are many rewarding parts of the job.
“It’s a good feeling to make money on my own without having to rely on other people,” Murray said. “Plus, I’m the only person from Miege who works here, so it’s nice being able to work with other people I don’t know.”
Murray recommends Fairway Creamery to the staff and students for a variety of reasons.
“People should come to Fairway Creamery because of the environment and atmosphere,” Murray said. “The ice cream is pretty good too.”
Some of Murray’s recommendations are so popular, the store has sold out.
“I really like our pistachio ice cream, and would normally recommend it, but it’s all gone today,” Murray said. “The caramel apple ice cream is amazing though.”
Finding a job as a high schooler can be difficult, but Murray offers some courage to those still struggling to find a job.
“I would recommend just going out and filling out an application,” Murray said. “Just go for it. All I did was go inside and I asked for an application, and here I am today. You never know what might happen.”