IRVING, Texas – Many restaurants across Texas remain understaffed and job openings persist even after the state reopened in March.
Federal unemployment benefits will end in June in our state, but some former service workers have no plans to turn back the clock at all, or at least until the industry improves.
During the pandemic, time away from the industry allowed some former restaurant workers to explore other avenues of income.
âI work from home for a mortgage industry,â said Michael Corral of Irving.
Corral worked as a waiter for many years and eventually became a restaurant manager until the pandemic put an end to his long experience in the service industry.
âProbably seven or eight years, continuing to work as a waiter in a restaurant for eight years. I had also been a manager for almost a year, âhe said.
The new career path is very different from what Corral was used to, but he says it’s been very good for him so far. According to Corral, he offers more stability than ever when working in a restaurant.
âA guaranteed hourly rate, in my opinion, is a lot less stressful because you can plan ahead a bit, like this is how much I’ll earn with my next paycheck, and a better budget. While serving is kinda like we’ll see what i do, âsays Corral.
He also says the mortgage industry gives him better incentives and promotional opportunities in a shorter period of time.
Corral’s roommate Pete Gonzalez was also fired from his waiter job in 2020. He says he must have started collecting unemployment for the first time and that time spent away from his busy restaurant schedule gave him a chance to refocus on his educational goals.
âSince the pandemic, I have completed eight classes,â Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says he’s looking for work, but not in a restaurant because of the low pay.
âThe salary – yes, $ 2.13 is nothing. Do you know how many times I walked out of work with about $ 30 on an eight hour shift? He said, assuring that this is the reason why many people are leaving the industry.
He says the work environment alienates some people as well.
âPeople don’t really see the things that go on behind those doors, the doors that come and go when you wait for your food – you get swornâ¦â he continued.
Another reason Gonzalez doesn’t go back and says making people look elsewhere is the way waiters and waitresses are sometimes treated by customers.
âPeople, no respect, no respect at all,â he said.
The student also believes that restaurant and service workers should have received a risk premium for continuing to work during the height of the pandemic and putting their health at risk.
Gonzalez and Corral both say they would feel more encouraged to return to a restaurant in the future if there was a noticeable difference in base salary, benefits and growth opportunities in the industry.
For now, Gonzalez is ready for a change and better lifestyle opportunities as his roommate.
âI’m definitely a lot more relaxed and satisfied with my new job,â Corral said of his work in the mortgage industry.