COVID-19’s Impact on Restaurant Servers

7 months ago Triangle 0

Written by: Morgan Clark, staff writer

Dayton, TENN.—COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of the restaurant industry; however, while cooks and managers continue to make the same pay they did before the pandemic, restaurant servers and bartenders suffer both physically and financially. 

Servers and bartenders are paid $2.13 an hour in Tenn. These individuals rely on tips to make up the rest of their hourly pay, meaning they need to make at least $5.12 an hour from their customers. With fewer people eating out at restaurants amid the pandemic, tips are harder to come by and income is harder to predict. 

A Fortune survey found that about 70% of respondents expect to cook more at home and about 80% expect to eat the same or more at home post-COVID as they did during COVID-19. Nearly half of those surveyed plan to eat at restaurants less post-COVID, while most said they are cooking at home more now and ordering delivery or takeout less than they were two weeks ago.

If fewer people are eating out, restaurants do not need as many servers working at all times as they did before COVID-19 rolled around. Needless to say, hours are cut. Servers often show up for a shift, only have four or five tables (who may tip decently, tip well, or not tip at all) and then are cut off of the floor and told to go home for the day so that they don’t hurt the restaurant’s labor numbers.

Wearing masks for an entire shift is necessary, but it takes a toll. Servers often work double shifts – meaning they can be there for twelve to fourteen hours a day. During these hours, servers and bartenders are constantly walking, carrying heavy trays and plates, lifting ice buckets, cleaning, pulling out tables and booths, restocking items and cleaning off tables. Serving and bartending are physically demanding jobs; wearing masks only adds to the fatigue and frustration.

Servers have had to deal with a particularly demanding set of customers during this time. It is not uncommon for customers to try and discuss politics with their server, or grow upset over COVID-19 regulations within restaurants. Customers often refuse to wear a mask or use gloves for buffet-style service. Servers and bartenders are often harassed over changing menus (most restaurants have downsized their menu options due to supply issues and unpredictable sales) during COVID when, believe it or not, servers do not control the menu options.

Now is the time to demonstrate a Christian worldview and show kindness to your servers and bartenders. Tip well, demonstrate good manners and be a good example for future generations.

Morgan Clark is a senior communications major at Bryan College. Clark is also a cheerleader for the school with plans to graduate in May 2021.