Local Restaurant Servers Optimistic Despite Pandemic’s Impact

One week ago, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congressional leadership emphasizing that the restaurant industry needs assistance.

According to the letter, “more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type – franchise, chain, and independent – are in economic free fall.”

Eighty-seven percent of full-service restaurants (independent, chain, and franchise) report an average 36% drop in sales revenue, according to the survey.

6Smith Server Amanda Arnold and her dog Charlie

And with every restaurant trying to make ends meet, there are dozens of employees impacted.

“Although the restaurant certainly suffered lost revenue, my hours were not impacted during the summer months as 6Smith has a gorgeous lakeside patio and rooftop bar for outdoor dining,” said 6Smith server and Wayzata resident Amanda Arnold. “However, as summer came to an end and things moved back to limited indoor dining, my hours were drastically reduced. The combination of restrictions on indoor dining capacity along with a seasonal reduction in business levels (which is to be expected during the fall months at a lakeside restaurant) reduced my hours from a full time forty hour per week schedule to a part time fifteen hour per week schedule.”

Arnold moved to Minnesota from Colorado and her job in the service industry is not just a gig, it is a career and a passion.

“I have been in the service industry for almost fifteen years. Not only do I love doing what I do, I am also very good at it,” said Arnold. “I have a double major in Accounting and Finance and paid for my Bachelors Degree with the money I made waiting tables. After college, I spent two years as an auditor in public accounting and quickly came to terms with the reality that I was miserable. My return to the service industry was one of the best decisions I made and I am not considering another occupation anytime soon. Furthermore, it took years of hard work to get where I am in this industry, including tenure at the Ritz Carlton in Denver and years working at fine dining establishments in Aspen, Colorado.”

Amanda Arnold & Cam Schaefer

 Arnold’s boyfriend, Cam Schaefer, also works at 6Smith.

“And just as 6smith relies on us to deliver a fantastic experience to our fabulous guests, we rely on 6smith not only for income but for a sense of family and community,” said Schaefer. “6smith has been feeding all of its employees and their families throughout the shutdown, via a daily meal available for pickup around lunchtime. It is this spirit which makes me proud to be an employee. ‘We are all in this together’ – that’s our motto this pandemic. “

Despite of the challenges facing the service industry, Schaefer, like Arnold, would not want to work in a different industry.

“Absolutely not,” said Schaefer. “Being a career server at a high-end establishment is not something you stumble into. It took years of hard work to get to where I am at.” 

Unemployment has helped, but it only goes so far.

“I am currently using unemployment,” said Arnold. “Although the money I receive is only a small fraction of what I make at 6Smith, it is just enough to pay my bills and feed my family until the restaurant is able to reopen for indoor dining. However, many of my coworkers that have mortgages, car payments, and children are in a more precarious predicament.”

Both Arnold and Schaefer understand the health concerns that led to the current restrictions on Minnesota restaurants, but they believe more needs to be done to support the establishments.

“It would be nice if Congress passed a bill to provide stimulus for those in need as state unemployment is not enough for many,” said Arnold.

Until then, shop local and support local.

“You have heard it a million times but it couldn’t be more true! Support local! Buy gift-cards, order takeout, tip well,” said Schaefer.

“Restaurants may be temporarily closed for indoor dining but they are still open for takeout. You can support your local businesses by ordering your favorite food curbside,” said Arnold. “If takeout food isn’t for you, purchase some gift cards! For every $100 you spend on gift cards at 6Smith you will receive a free $25 gift card for yourself this holiday season. Once we reopen, get excited, make a reservation, and let us do what we do best which is providing an exceptional dining experience.”

6Smith Server Amanda Arnold and her dog Charlie

“I feel lucky and blessed to be where I am,” said Schaefer. “I live here in Wayzata, a town that I have come to adore, with my beautiful girlfriend Amanda and her doodle Charlie. I ride my bike to work every day, along Minnetonka’s glistening shores. I work outside almost every day all summer and get to connect with so many of you. I couldn’t be prouder of the way you are all handling this pandemic! In spite of everything you all come to our restaurant in great spirits and share your wonderful energy with all of us. Minnesota you are fabulous and thank you for taking care of us! People helping people, it’s a beautiful thing.”

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