Working in a restaurant during the Covid-19 outbreak

By Luis Flores ’20

Illinois governor JB Pritzker announced in late March that the state of Illinois would be going into a stay-at-home order. This means that only essential businesses are open, and citizens should only go out if necessary. 

Citizens are able to head to work if they work in an essential business, go grocery shopping, and reach out for medical assistance. This stay at home order has affected many families financially worldwide. Many adults suffered from the loss of income due to the coronavirus outbreak with a US unemployment rate of 14.7% as of May 8, which is the highest since the Great Depression.

Although restaurants closed their doors for dine-in,  they still continue to serve food via take-out. This includes pick-up, delivery, Grubhub or UberEats. Being able to maintain an income during this hard time is something that should not be taken for granted. 

Being able to work during this pandemic really gives me a different perspective of people. I was at work, a line cook at Hooters, when Governor Pritzker announced the lockdown. A short moment later, I was informed that the restaurant was going to close, but  only the kitchen was going to remain open. Before all of this, I had already been working in the kitchen for three years.

Instead of having full staff, which includes 8 line cooks, 2 dishwashers, 3 managers, and 3 to-go,  less employees were scheduled now, having a total of only 3 line cooks, 1 manager and 1 to-go person. We do not have to stay 6 feet apart, but we do always need to wear masks and gloves. This also limited our exposure to people. 

During the first two weeks, not many orders went out, and it was really boring because there was nothing to do for hours. Most of those orders went out via Grubhub or UberEats. As the days went on, more and more people started to place orders, and the weekends were so busy that it was like a typical day. 

Something I did notice was that once people started getting their stimulus checks in mid-April. It started to get more and more busy. 

Open hours have shortened for many in the food industry. At Hooters, we close at 9 p.m. now rather than our usual 1 a.m. This resulted in many people losing money due to the shortage of work hours. However, because many people have been laid off, I’m working almost every day now. Before I only worked the weekends, but now I make even more money because I work Monday and Wednesday as well.