UPDATED 12:30 PM PT — Friday, May 8, 2020
Patience is wearing thin for Americans in the hospitality industry as forced shut downs remain in effect for many parts of the country. According to recent reports, restaurant owners and employees are facing the tough decision of whether to hold out or throw in the towel.
With so many unknowns, including how long lockdowns will remain and what things will look like once they’re are lifted, leaders in the food industry are struggling with how to proceed. However, they’re keeping the fate of their employees in mind.
“We’ve kept everybody on group health insurance. It allows us to maintain them as an employee and communicate with them throughout the furlough. As restaurants come back online, we’re anxious to see what that ramp is. You know, we don’t know if that ramp is going to be back to 100 percent in one month, or is it six months?” – Jeff Crivello, CEO of BBQ Holdings Inc.
Reports of businesses closing their doors for good have been piling up daily as companies burn through savings and are unable to remain afloat on government assistance alone.
“It was early March where we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to furlough about 85 percent of our workforce,” added Crivello.
Workers are facing uncertainties of their own. One bartender has said she’s stuck in limbo, not wanting to remain jobless, but still hesitant to step into a new line of work.
“I’m young and I’m able if I needed to get a job. Amazon is hiring, grocery stores are hiring, all of that. I’m just holding out because I want my old job back, and I don’t want to stop collecting unemployment if I don’t have to.” – Sara Barnard, bartender
Others are worried no one will want to hire them, since their entire career has been in the now unstable food industry.
“I don’t know if people want to sit in restaurants so close to each other anymore. It’s scary, you know, when you’ve been doing it for 21 years. That is all I have on my resume. Where do I go next?” – Nelis Rodriguez, server
To make ends meet, restaurants have shifted to curbside pick-up and delivery options. However, they aren’t seeing anywhere close to the normal profits created by regular dine-in services.