Recent executive orders limiting dining in restaurants restrict the pay for servers in the food service industry, many of which are students.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 19 closing all restaurants and bars, with the exception of To-Go food and beverages, until April 3. On March 31, he updated that order by issuing a new order requiring the minimization of social gatherings and in-person contact with the exception of essential services.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about half of all students enrolled full-time in post-secondary education are employed. As many employed students at ACU work in the food service industry either part or full-time, many students are now left without jobs.
“It is just crazy that working in the food industry was always thought to be a pretty reliable job,” Grace Windham, senior communications disorders major from Plano, said. “Restaurants were really one of the first things to close. It all happened so suddenly. One day I had a job and the next I didn’t.”
The Abilene Reporter-News has published an article detailing every restaurant in Abilene and whether they take carry-out, delivery, curbside orders or have closed.
Many restaurants are finding ways to compensate their employees who are unable to work during the order. There are several different ways that employers are choosing to do this.
Arial Parker, a server at Chili’s in North Abilene, said servers at Chili’s Bar and Grill are given $325 per week, which is around 40 percent of their typical wage, while To-Go personnel and limited kitchen staff are still able to work and are making regular wages.
Windham, a server at Cheddar’s in Abilene, said servers at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen are being compensated 50 percent of their individual average reported weekly wages, and To-Go personnel and cooks are also allowed to work and make regular wages.
Chick-fil-A employees were told they could not comment, but are remaining open using drive-thru and curbside pickup.
“I do think that a lot of servers, and others in the food industry, live paycheck to paycheck,” Windham said. “This sudden loss of income is hitting us all.”