Customers, Hug A Restaurant Worker

Closures and stimulus checks have hulled out the restaurant industry. In talking with restauranteurs, I estimate that a third, to half, of all the staff you see working at a restaurant (front and back of the house) have never worked in a restaurant before.

Restaurants are desperate for staff. McDonalds was infamously offering iPhones to job applicants as a "signing bonus." Here in Boulder, CO The Kitchen Cafe is offering $1,000 cash bonuses for joining. The general sentiment on the part of potential employees is some combination of the restaurant industry being a brutal place to work (low pay, difficult/long hours, emotionally abusive work environment, heavy exposure to drug use, and entitled/oblivious customers), and that often, the stimulus checks they're receiving outweigh re-entering the industry at all.

The latter calculation will change soon enough as the stimulus programs expire, but the former is something we as customers can have a hand in. The next time you are partaking in a restaurant experience, keep in mind that there are high-odds that the person you're interfacing with is new to the industry, and a) is inexperienced, and b) doing the best they can to come up to speed. As the industry is hurting for staff members, your kindness, encouragement and support of these newcomers can go a long way to shaping their experience. If they leave their shift having had positive interactions with customers, they're more likely to stay on. The end-result could be more restaurants being open, with a broader set of hours for customers to choose from, and shorter lines/wait times. Not to mention this is how everyone should be treated all the time, but, now is a good time to go above and beyond in your interactions.

Also, instead of waiting for the world to understand how to handle a "living wage," you can financially support the system by tipping heavily, and/or accepting the "community service fee," as some restaurants are calling it, being proactively applied to the check on the part of the restaurant which aids them is paying their team a livable wage.

I'm predicting a severe retraction of restaurants/cafes in the coming year.

Jud Valeski

Jud Valeski

Parent, photographer, mountain biker, runner, investor, wagyu & sushi eater, and a Boulderite. Full bio here:
Boulder, CO