The year is 2021, and restaurant workers are tired. A global pandemic, social unrest, and economic turmoil have made the past two years beyond trying for anyone working in the service industry. Lots of people are jumping ship, saying enough is enough and finally getting a “real job” where people aren’t screaming at them about their Grey Goose martini being too dirty.
However, lots of us are still here, committed to the lifestyle that working a restaurant job can grant you; Flexible hours, fantastic money, an active and social work environment. Leaving that for a traditional job with a M-F schedule behind a computer screen just doesn’t sound good to a lot of us!
Don’t get me wrong, every restaurant worker that I know is tired and frustrated right now. Being understaffed is no joke, and customers have grown more and more impatient as this pandemic has progressed. Everyone has at least one story about breaking down in the walk-in, or needing that extra smoke break.
There are also lots of reports of tipping being, well, not good. Venues have adopted the automatic 18% gratuity in response, which can backfire when a customer fights with the server about not wanting to pay it. Even with the risk of COVID being lower now than a year ago, restaurant workers still deserve at least 18% gratuity, especially if they are only being paid a low hourly rate.
I’m not just talking about the people who are passionate about hospitality or food and beverage, but the restaurant workers who love what they do because they thrive in it.
You know them, the bartenders who absolutely kill service when they’re in the weeds the whole time. The server who sits and rolls silverware at the end of her shift, dramatically telling stories about the customers she had to “put in their place” that night. They count their cash, laugh about how late it is, say that they’re all crazy for putting up with it, and then come back the next day to do it all again.
These are the people at the heart of our industry. And I believe that even through all of the chaos we’re experiencing, that we can come together and overcome this.
I, like most of you, have been feeling really disheartened lately when hearing about the state of restaurants. No one wants to work, everyones leaving, restaurants are closing. I’m not saying that these things aren’t happening, because they are.
I’m just saying that maybe we’re focusing too much on the negative, and not enough on the things that are good, and the people who can help us come out of this. Because we will come out of this! People will always want to go eat in restaurants, and they don’t want to order everything off of a screen. Yes we will have to adapt, change and grow (like we already have), but restaurants are here to stay, and so are the people who work in them.