IRVING, Texas – A large number of restaurants across Texas remain understaffed and job openings remain even after the state reopens 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.
“I work from home for a mortgage industry,” 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.
“Probably seven or eight years, then eight years working as a waiter in a restaurant. I had also been a manager for almost a year, ”he 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 he ever had when working in a restaurant.
“A guaranteed hourly rate in my opinion is a lot less stressful because you can plan ahead a bit, like that’s what I’ll earn on my next paycheck, and budget better. kinda like we’ll see what I’m doing, ”Corral said.
He also says the mortgage industry gives him better incentives and promotional opportunities in a shorter time frame.
Corral’s roommate Pete Gonzalez was also fired from his job as a waiter in 2020. He says he must have started collecting unemployment for the first time in his history and that the time spent away from his schedule charged at the restaurant allowed him to refocus on his educational goals.
“Since the pandemic, I have completed eight classes,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says he’s looking for work, but not in a restaurant because of the low pay.
“The salary – yes, $ 2.13 is nothing. Do you know how many times I’ve left work with about $ 30 on an eight hour shift? He said, assuring that this is why a lot of people are leaving the industry.
He says the work environment alienates some people as well.
“People don’t really see the things that go on behind those doors, the doors that come and go when you are waiting for your food – you get insulted…” he continued.
Another reason Gonzalez doesn’t go back and say people look elsewhere is the way waiters and waitresses are sometimes treated by customers.
“People, no respect, no respect at all,” he said.
The student also believes that workers in the restaurant and service industries 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 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.
“I’m definitely a lot more relaxed and happy with my new job,” Corral said of his work in the mortgage industry.