Much of American public life is at a standstill during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to crippling job losses for the leisure and hospitality sector.
A total of 701,000 jobs were lost in March, according to the US Department of Labor’s monthly report, released yesterday. While no sector was immune, restaurants and bars accounted for 60%, or 419,000, of the jobs cut.
From capped working hours to peer-to-peer counseling, restaurant owners and managers are working hard to help their staff feel safe and stable.
Twenty years ago, a restaurant owner at highly acclaimed Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant Peninsula Grill gave his manager, Steven Palmer, two options: go to rehab or quit. Palmer — a promising young restaurant professional — was struggling with an all-consuming addiction to cocaine and alcohol. After going out seven days a week until 4 or 5 a.m. for 10 years, Palmer started what he called a difficult journey through Alcoholic Anonymous 12-Step program. What he faced when he returned to restaurants was also daunting.
“The general stigma at that time was that you absolutely cannot be sober in the hospitality industry,” Palmer says. “The sober life in a kitchen was very lonely back then.”