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Oak Park grocery store delivers during coronavirus pandemic

Carnival Grocery owner Arthur Paris says people in the community trust shopping at his store and know he’s taken steps to protect employees, too,

When Nihal Gratian parks in his garage after his shift at Carnival Grocery, his wife makes sure he does two things before walking into their home: remove his clothes and wash them.

Gratian, a chef at the Oak Park store, is one of many in the food industry continuing to provide essential services customers. He worries about accidentally bringing home the virus. His wife’s immune system isn’t the best.

“We are doing on a daily basis these things, and I hope everything is going well,” Gratian said.

Nihal Gratian, a chef at Carnival Grocery in Oak Park.
Nihal Gratian, a chef at Carnival Grocery in Oak Park, says he removes and washes his clothes every night as soon as he gets home from work.
Brian Ernst / Sun-Times

Keeping his wife safe is in the back of his mind even at work.

Carnival owner Arthur Paris said people in the community trust shopping at his store. He’s taken steps to protect their employees, such as requiring masks and encouraging social distancing.

“We are also doing a great deal of business with people emailing us orders, and we shop it for them,” Paris said.

Arthur Paris, owner of Carnival Grocery in Oak Park.
Arthur Paris, owner of Carnival Grocery in Oak Park, said his employees have “stepped up to the challenge” of helping customers during the pandemic.
Brian Ernst / Sun-Times

Those shoppers pull in to the parking lot, where an employee drops the groceries in the trunk of their car, Paris said. Carnival will deliver to elderly customers and those with disabilities. They also offer early-shopping hours for seniors.

“My employees have been fantastic and have stepped up to the challenge,” Paris said. “People are tired more than they are afraid right now.”

Karina Ayala has been instrumental in helping with grocery deliveries and curbside pickup.

She said customers “are loving it. We’ve been getting a lot of good compliments from them, which is great. It’s been extremely busy, but as long as the customers are happy, we’re happy to help.”

Karina Ayala wearing a mask at Carnival Grocery in Oak Park.
Karina Ayala wearing a mask at Carnival Grocery in Oak Park.
Brian Ernst / Sun-Times

Ayala said everyone working at the store washes their hands often and keeps a safe working environment.

Paris is proud of his employees, saying they “stepped up and took care of business.”