With the Coronavirus Threat Still Looming, NYC Restaurant Employees Say They’re Struggling to Find Jobs

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Pandemic, Queens, NY, Restaurants

By Emily Drooby

“Everyone who is looking for a job is using this is applying for the same twenty-six things,” explained line cook, Gwynne Spencer.

He’s referring to a website that is popular with members of the restaurant industry when it comes to finding jobs. Usually there are hundreds posted, but the pandemic has changed that.

Spencer explained, “There’s 30 people hiring front of house staff, servers.”

There’s only 26 line cook positions and he said he has applied to all of them. Spencer hasn’t worked since March 15th. He worked in the industry for over a decade, most recently in fine dining. He has only heard back about three jobs and none of them have materialized.

Spencer said, “so many people are looking for these jobs.”

Spencer says not long ago there was a beacon of hope as restaurants began to post jobs to prepare for indoor dinning in the city. But when that was delayed, so were the jobs.

“All of a sudden these places were no getting back to you or pulling out their applications and you couldn’t find anything anymore,” Spencer told Currents News.

“I think it’s pretty dark clouds on the horizon and everybody is really nervous about what the future looks like,” said Melissa Fleischut, the President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

She said restaurant employment in NYC is a fraction of what it used to be.

Fleischut added, “For right now we have really been focusing on trying to make sure that everyone can stay open at the level that they’re open right now and that we don’t slide backwards.”

With COVID-19 cases spiking in other parts of the country, New York leaders are watching closely, ready to put in new restrictions if necessary

A scrambled situation for big apple restaurants and bars and the people that work in them.

Spencer said, “Being subject to a lot of prediction and having that prediction be wrong every couple of weeks is unsettling.”

He adds that many of his friends in the industry who have jobs aren’t comfortable going back to them, as the industry seems unstable.

He explained, “A lot of people I know are hesitant to go back to work even if they have a guaranteed job because they don’t want to get off of the unemployment, start working again and then find out in 2 weeks that they no longer have a job because the restaurants need to shut down.”

Recently, Dr. Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force even suggested closing bars and cutting back on indoor dinning in states that have it, to fight the spike. The comment further instilled fears of sliding backwards here in New York.