“STOP. Take your temperature!”
The sign is hard to miss, and the message to employees and customers entering Irwin’s Pharmacy is loud and clear.
The Chesapeake landmark, dating back to 1934, brought in new state-of-the-art technology to help combat COVID-19.
Joe Campbell, pharmacist, has owned the business — both the pharmacy and diner at 4300 Indian River Road — since 2014.
Campbell said he first saw an automated touchless temperature screening kiosk made by 98.6 Labs when he took his sons to the DEFY trampoline park in Chesapeake (formerly Cloud 9).
“It’s helped us control people that are actively sick and still want to utilize our services,” Campbell said. “It keeps everyone else safe, and we are still able to serve them in a different fashion.”
The machines cost $3,000, but Campbell felt it was well worth the investment.
Users are prompted to stand a few feet in front of the camera and line up their face in an outlined area. Within a second, an infrared scanner displays the individual’s temperature.
Green: You can proceed into the store.
Red: The machine will beep and alert you to please return to your vehicle, and an employee will come outside to further assist you.
Stephen Grover manages the diner, Irwin’s Fountain, which has been tucked in the back of the store since 1954.
Grover said the automated digital readout is much more efficient than having employees stand at the building’s front and side entrances.
“Losing a staff member just to stand at the door didn’t seem that practical,” Grover said. “Plus you’re limiting contact between people as well.”
The technology has garnered a lot of interest.
“People love it. It makes it so easy, they line up and keep on moving,” he said.
Business did take a substantial hit during the pandemic at the diner, which has a counter and a few booths.
“Losing your dine-in seating — for a small restaurant like this — takes a little bit of a shot,” he said. “But the takeout business was still pretty robust and actually picked up over time.”
They have dine-in service now, Grover said, and they stayed afloat during the past year with to-go orders and the diner’s location within the pharmacy.
“Our takeout business is dang near half of what we do in a day now,” Grover said. “I’d say it upped it about 20%. We do a lot of takeout.”
And his dozen or so employees kept working throughout the pandemic as their doors, and the pharmacy’s, never closed.
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, email@example.com