For season three of the podcast we’re asking how the restaurant business will survive in the time of pandemic.
Our guest in episode 23, Grace Guber, is the host and producer of her own podcast, The Family Meal. She covers stories about the restaurant industry and COVID-19 and news relating to the restaurant industry.
Restaurants are the soul of a neighborhood. That makes the news hard to hear that this week we’ve had another order to close restaurants in Los Angeles. Some owners decided that it’s just not worth it. They shut their doors. Maybe for good.
There is help on the way, possibly. The city will offer a one-time $800 stipend to employees who work in food service industries, including restaurants, breweries and food stands.
That is a band-aid. The real issues circle around restaurant management not valuing the contribution of staff, waitstaff being treated like gig workers, and the backstage costs of running a place to eat.
Gig workers, like Uber and Lyft drivers and delivery people, are not classified as employees in California. Little job security and no benefits for them. In cities like New York, some of the gig companies have offered fairly-decent minimum wages. But while these services bring in million-dollar revenue, their workers have trouble making ends meet. The people who deliver your takeout are economically related to the people who are serving it to you in the restaurant.
I’ll cover the gig economy in a future episode.
The pandemic has shown us a class system that was always present in the restaurant business. Fast food and drive throughs are doing fine. The high end will likely survive because of their loyal clientele. But the broad middle class of restaurants, the mom and pop places that give neighborhoods their flavor, in more ways than one, they are in jeopardy.