How the Service Industry has Reacted, and Continues to React, to the Pandemic

COVID-19 has caused major changes in many industries across America, and restaurants are no exception.  Many restaurants in Texas have had to make several changes in order to survive, and each restaurant and their workers have had different experiences. Some restaurants and their employees have made the best of the situation, and even thrived. While others have had a hard time adapting.

            Omar Aldmour is the owner of the Pita Shop in San Marcos. His restaurant specializes in Mediterranean food, and while many other restaurants have had to take drastic action in order to cope with the change in business, such as letting go a majority of the staff. Omar managed to stay ahead by focusing most of his business towards to-go orders rather than try to make due with dine in.

            “After the government stopped letting people eat in, my to-go orders skyrocketed.” Said Aldmour, “We were making almost as much money before the virus hit. People loved being able to walk in, grab their food, and walk out immediately. Even after the restaurants have opened back up I am still getting almost twice as many to go orders as I was before everything happened. We are doing excellent and I hope to keep this momentum going through the rest of the pandemic.”

            While some restaurants may be doing fine, some of the waiters have been left struggling to make a living during the pandemic. Hunter Seglem is a waiter at Chill’s on the Creek in Wimberley Tx, and with a recent downturn in customers since the pandemic hit, has been having a difficult time making ends meet even after the restaurants opened back up.

            “I started working at Chill’s a while before Covid came into all of our lives, back when the restaurant was known as Inoz.” Said Seglem, “It was a great way to make money to keep me going during college, rent was easily paid, and I always made enough to have a social life too. Once Covid hit that started to change though. With dine in no longer being an option, I was forced to only be able to take to-go orders on the phone, and we rarely ever got tipped for those kinds of orders. They started paying us more during that time to help keep us stable, but it still didn’t make up the difference in what I lost from a lack of tips. Even now that everything is somewhat back to normal, business has been slower. Not as many people eat at the restaurant anymore, and because of that, tips still aren’t near as much as what they were before. I have started only picking up shifts on the weekend, because I like my coworkers, and have gotten a job at Amazon instead, I hate working there, and would rather only serve, but I have bills to pay, and waiting tables isn’t as profitable as it used to be.

            Seglem’s story is not an uncommon one for waiters lately, but while that profession in the service industry may be currently struggling, others have changed for the better. Peyton Person is a cook at Chimy’s, a restaurant on the San Marcos square, and has been preferring the calmer crowds than usual.

            Chimy’s was always packed 7 days a week past 5pm and working as a cook was super stressful.” Said Person, “Sure most people go to Chimy’s to drink, but they almost always order food. We were often really behind, and it sometimes could take an hour and a half to get an order made. Once Corona came, we had to cut down on the capacity, and quite frankly I loved it. I was still getting paid the same, since cooks get paid hourly, but the job became way less stressful. People would have to order some food with every two drinks, and it kept people from getting too drunk as a bonus, since they didn’t want to spend extra money. Less people, less work, same pay, it was great. Now that everything is back to normal, things are still better than they were. Chimy’s let go of the cooks that were making things go slower, and people seem to be way more patient and less rowdy.”

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