Restaurant servers on statewide shutdown: ‘it’s killing us’

Local News

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Restaurants and bars across the state can only serve take out or delivery. It’s part of the state’s shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Restaurant owners say they’re employees are now paying the price.

“3 customers, 3 customers all day. Right now we’re cleaning the restaurant and doing things you normally wouldn’t notice or have time to do,” said Vince Karam, who owns Greek To Me Restaurant in the Town of Tonawanda.

Vince Karam says he’s been in business for 18 years and for the first time he’s offering delivery. This comes just a day after restaurants statewide only offering take out because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’re looking at every other way to prevent spreading this virus, and I get that but at the same time what about the people who are going to be affected by it,” said Karam.

People like Seamus Holt, a server at the restaurant, who’s used to making at least $150 in tips in a day.

“We depend on these tips and we live day to day here in the restaurant business and it’s just killing us. That goes for bills, food, taking care of my family and stuff like that but now where’s that going to go? How am i going to get cash daily? said Seamus Holt.

Holt says he’s going work for family members doing construction on the side, but he says other serves aren’t as lucky.

“I started getting calls from other servers, bartenders asking what we’re going to do. I started seeing some trying to baby-sit and stuff like that,” said Holt.

Karam says he is frustrated that there aren’t any guidelines for employees from the state on what to do. He says he’s encouraging his servers to file for partial unemployment.

For Holt, it’s not just the cut in hours or pay that’s nerve wrecking, but the uncertainty ahead.

“I don’t know what other serves are going to do who depend on working two jobs, days, nights and they’re both serving and bartending, they’re done,” said Holt.

Karam tells News 4 if partial unemployment doesn’t cover what his employees such as servers need, he will loan them the difference to help them out.

He also says he’s considering just shutting down his restaurant for the time being, but if it comes to that, he plans to give the food to his employees and donate the rest.

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