In early March 2020, when the realities of COVID-19 were just dawning on the US, 32% of consumers said they planned to eat at restaurants less often, according to Technomic.
In December 2020, CNN reported that 10,000 restaurants had closed in the past three months.
More than a year later, here’s an update from Technomic’s TIndex, a monthly index that was introduced in April 2021 and is revised regularly.
“[T]he industry is down 2.8% over a two-year basis but has grown by 22% compared to the same month in 2020.”
Restaurant closures have multiple downstream effects: loss of revenue for their owners, negative effects on local economies, and job reductions/terminations for the people who work there. Those are the people I want to talk about in this series. I suppose the 22% growth in November 2021 compared to November 2020 is a plus, but the biggest story is the longer-term metric that the industry is down 2.8% since two years ago.
Given the continued challenges restaurants face, combined with the stories I personally hear from friends who are in the industry, I have sought to help them tell their stories.
Here are the previous posts in this series:
Hospitality in a pandemic: What your server wants you to know (January 2021)
The Restaurant Business 2021: Neutralizing Negativity (September 2021)
Why the restaurant business is not back to normal (December 2021)
Must you snap your fingers at me? A server speaks out (January 2022)
Today, I’m pleased to welcome Tamara McShane, a server in southwest Florida.
What is the ONE thing you wish your guests understood about the challenges of serving them amid the pandemic?
Nothing is consistent for anyone. Every month, every week, and sometimes every shift changes….we have zero control.
What is the most frustrating thing that has happened to you as a hospitality pro during the pandemic?
Working regardless of a safe environment…I have at-risk family, including a family member with cancer, elderly folks, and very young children. I’ve tried the “luxury” of remaining unemployed to keep my family safe and I’ve worked alongside those (and for those) who are skeptical about there being a risk at all. There is no easy route. I have to work, I have to take care of those I love, and I have to take risks even when patrons don’t adhere to CDC recommendations. It’s quite difficult.
Has there been ANYTHING good/heartwarming that has happened to you in the hospitality world during the pandemic? (If so, what was it?)
I’ve had fabulous tips as a server. Those who tip above average help me make ends meet. Money doesn’t solve it all, but during this precarious time when a business can unexpectedly shut down for a few days or more, the financial bonuses make me incredibly grateful. A 25% or 35% tip takes the stress down a notch after one loses shifts due to COVID-19, for example. Also, those who “tip the bill” really help me make ends meet during this crazy time.
Editor’s note: Have you heard of the “tip the bill” challenge? A diner who “tips the bill” leaves a tip that is the same amount as the bill (so a $100 bill would have a $100 tip, for example). It doesn’t have to be a “challenge,” documented on social media with a hashtag. I can just be a human, generous thing to do. Here’s an article that describes “tip the bill.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share? If so, this is your place!
This is not an easy time for you, the guest. It’s not an easy time for me, your server. I strive to make your experience better than you hoped for but I’m only one part of the process and I’m trying harder than ever. Please know those little things — like thinking of everything your table needs while I’m there instead of waiting for each time I return with the most recent requested napkins, refill, lemons, plates, etc. to request yet another item; having your entire party order at the same time; realizing staff shortages affect the entire process — matter greatly and help us all. I’ve given up a lot during this time, as most of us have. One world one love. Kindness matters!
Oh, and please have your political discussions with your own friends or family—it’s just awkward with those who have to serve you.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
Carol Cassara (@ccassara) says
Yes, a little understanding on both sides has become novel these days. What a good person this server is.
Paula Kiger says
Exactly!! Thanks for chiming in.
Rena McDaniel says
I can only imagine how hard it to be in this industry right now. I will be so glad when it’s finally under control (if it ever does happen).
Paula Kiger says
SAME HERE! 🙂
Diane Tolley says
I ache when people ache. Adding to the tip seems such a simple thing to do!
Paula Kiger says
Yes! Doing “tip the bill” could get pricey — I know I couldn’t do it every time, but I have made a goal to do it at least occasionally as I can afford it.