I was driving down memory lane in my car. The places I went before the pandemic happened. All the places where I eat with friends, play, and even went away when I feel out of place, slowly disappear.
I was driving a friend back home because it was late and he had too many drinks. I drove back where my parents used to work. Their shop. Most of the store in that plaza was either closed or replaced by some other shop. Most of them were restaurants. Most of them were close to my family. Most of them have families to feed. It gets me worried about the awful fallout of what COVID-19 did to the food industry. It created problems that are almost too hard to solve. It created stuff that hinders families to meet their ends meet. I can’t hurt but feel bad for them. All these people who I call working neighbors, gone. Possibly forever. I tried not to cry because my friend was there. But man, it feels so shitty how everything changes in a span of almost 2 years. And to be brutally honest, this is only half of the fallout. The other half is the recovery.
Coming from a guy that works in the food industry, it is extremely hard to find someone that is willing to work in the food, beverage, and service industry. From restaurants, bars, hotels, and even some venues, you can definitely sense some sort of uncertainty of their future. I have friends from many different sectors in the food industry that are struggling to find people that are committed, passionate, and genuinely kind that wanted to work in this sector. It’s not until you talked to someone that is working there, know that they’re struggling to make this business a thing.
I remembered I was dining at a restaurant and I saw my friend working on the line. And I know he is stressing out. Some people don’t see it because he’s calm. But around him, he’s understaffed, overworked, and on his last legs. When I came over to chat with him, he asked me, “I’m guessing that your place is understaffed too?”. I of course said “Yes”. He and I shared the same pain as any other worker in the food industry. And he and I said to each other “If you have anyone that is looking for a job, hook them up here”.
The million-dollar question to this is that “When will this chaotic mess will end?” I wish I can tell you the answer. A year? Few years? A decade? There is no answer to this except hoping that these businesses will recover and everything will become close to normal. The food industry will never be the same pre-pandemic. It will never have the short-staff problems, the rising inflation of ingredients, and limited capacity as today. But as any optimist say, is that there is always be a light at the end of the tunnel. The only true question is that is it possible? I say yes. Eventually.