It has been a tough time in every work industry since the start of the pandemic that has left the world in a state of chaos, despair, and general loss. The food industry has not escaped that reality and for many, their own realities didn't make it through the first initial shutdowns caused by the pandemic. The restaurant industry, especially, is caught in between being a sector of essential, and non-essential, business. While restaurants are not something that has always been mandated to remain open, for many, they had no choice but to remain open for the sake of their employees and the owners who watched profits dip below a livable wage.
While the doors for most stayed open, it's the employees who still represent the face of the business, quite literally. Their roles have changed drastically since the start of all of this, facing new safety guidelines, floor-to-ceiling sanitation between guests, routine health and safety checks, and, on top of it, customers who couldn't be more unruly and disrespectful of both the establishment and its new guidelines - which must be enforced by all staff, in both front of house and back of house. In a recent article by Food & Wine, restaurant workers from all over were quoted saying what they wished customers knew each time they dined out, and here are some lessons that future patrons can remember the next time they make a reservation.
Their Jobs Have Changed Significantly, From Pay To Duties
To most people, a server or a cook is just that, doing their job to ensure proper service and a genuine experience for the paying customer. Restaurant staff should always be respected but especially now, it's important to remember that their positions have changed so drastically. They went from enjoying their shifts, hopefully making a liveable wage, to experiencing pay cuts, hour cuts, and doing double the amount of work.
What customers don't see is the rigorous sanitation process that goes on behind the scenes, the risk many staff members take when walking up to a table that refuses to put on their masks, and the general stress that's put on the entire staff who carries the risk of illness, with nothing else to do about it but ensure their jobs are cared out as efficiently as possible from their end.
Please Be Patient, You're Not The Only One Experiencing Changes
Many restaurant workers were quoted saying that the level of patience with the restaurant industry, as it ebbs and flows according to state restrictions, is at an all-new low. It's easy for a customer to become disgruntled between having to now wear a mask, make a reservation in advance, and deal with a new set of rules, but it's also hard on the part of the restaurant staff who make sure that experience is still top-notch.
Behind every meal is a staff of workers who helped create and deliver it, and the etiquette of common decency and general kindness should not be forgotten amongst a new set of safety guidelines.
No One Wants To Police Customers, But It's Not Their Fault
Wearing a mask has been one thing that many people can't seem to wrap their heads around, while they should be wrapping masks around their faces. Asking customers to wear their masks, directing them on where to stand so they don't put others at risk and vice versa, and generally being a guiding force in the restaurant is not something restaurant workers love doing. It must be done, however, as the executive chef of The Musket Room, Mary Attea, said, "Everyone on our team is putting their lives at risk in order to serve our guests, to help the restaurant survive, and in order to survive themselves, and then there are some who we serve who seem to be able to conduct themselves as though they aren't affected or even aware of the current economic and health crisis."
Not only is it unnecessarily critical, but it's also a blow to the restaurant staff's morale and overall spirits to sport a nasty streak when they're only complying with the state's rules. What many people don't understand is that behind the scenes, random checks with local police or health departments are ongoing, and if restaurant staff is found not in compliance with state guidelines, the restaurant could be written up or, even worse, temporarily shut down - which would be detrimental to most of them.
In short, restaurant workers deserve just as much respect and patience during this time as any other person does. It's hard on everyone; in short? Wear a mask. Treat people, especially those taking care of you, with kindness. Exercise patience for those taking the risk to bring us the comforts of food.