Restaurants Adapt, Struggle Across State

COVID-19 ,

Source: Georgia Public Broadcasting

The first job David Parham ever had was as a busboy at a restaurant in Georgia. After working several jobs in the food industry, the Roswell native now works at The EARL in East Atlanta Village.

But with The EARL and many other restaurants and bars across Georgia closed, Parham is worried about how things will recover after all is said and done.

“And especially like kitchen employees and people that aren't working for tips and are just generally paid less," he said. "And I really worry about all of my friends in those positions.”

CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association Karen Bremer told GPB’s Political Rewind that recent data reveals a significant impact on businesses so far.

A survey from the restaurant association from March 22 indicated 78% of restaurant operators had laid off employees Bremer said, and 12% indicated they anticipated closing permanently in the next 30 days.

Additionally, 41% had temporarily closed their restaurants.

This data comes from a GRA survey of 19,000 businesses statewide that employ around 500,000 people, Bremer said.

Restaurant owners are telling Bremer that they have never been in a situation like this before and they are unsure what to do.

“We don't know when consumer confidence is going to come back to feel safe, to go to a restaurant," she said. "I think there's just too much unknown and too much hidden out there right now.”

Parham acknowledges that despite being out of work since mid March, he is one of the lucky ones. East Atlanta Village and The EARL have a supportive community behind them, he said. 

A GoFundMe page titled "Help out The EARL employees who are out of work" was started the same day the EARL announced it was temporarily shutting down. And now, the fundraiser is nearly at its $20,000 goal.

"Everyone's just really coming together to support each other and they've been awesome to The EARL staff," Parham said. "Some regulars are just [sending] little tips when they're having a drink at their house to their bartenders. Little gestures like that are really meaningful and helpful and we're getting a lot of those."