Working in the restaurant industry can be great. In fact, surprisingly with some talent one can make $70k-$90k waiting tables at a higher end ($50+ guest spend or PPA). At more moderate price ponts ($30-$50 guest spend/PPA) restaurant $40k-$55k is possible, in fact I can concur to this, possibly even more. In this business your partially write your own check.
It can be great only working 5 hours a day for $300-$500 a day, it happens and sometimes is better for people than working in a cubicle. Of course it accompanies the restaurant life and that set of problems. For many however, it is a great way to earn a living and have days free for other things.
Living this life can be great…
Sudden Job Loss in Restaurants
The restaurant announces they lost their lease and will be closing in two weeks. PANIC!
HOW THE %%#@! DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Sad but true, many reasons, too many to get into detail about, they range from embezzlement to a new landlord that has someone willing to pay a higher rent. The world is a cruel place for sure. Now feel its wrath you fool. Like the rest of working America, welcome to the unemployment line; take a number.
Hopefully you can wither the storm of finding a new gig, however that can be tricky and frustrating. Finding work can be a difficult task, especially after having grown used to a certain place, guests and system of doing it. This happens everyday in the corporate world many in the restaurant life eschew. These people deal with it and enter an ocean as opposed to a pond in the restaurant industry. Don’t get too excited, this is a pond, but a very deep pond.
There are very few industries that can claim a shelf life shorter than the restaurant industry. How many businesses in world can claim that closing while profitable is a strategy? It happens all the time in this business, when night clubs and bars are figured in, the average length of time doors are open is even shorter. BUT, we are talking restaurants here.
Restaurants do have a short life and crazy things happen that cause them to close. Now this has happened, what do you do? Whether you had 3 weeks or 3 hours notice employment took a front seat in a hurry.
In this business, it can be a month until you start making money again after losing a job. Training takes a week or two, then at least another two weeks to get comfortable and work into the schedule and rotation. In nearly every other industry training pay is good and involves being paid the same or getting a small bump in pay after training is complete. The difference is from day 1 a livable wage is being made. Again this business is cruel and everything is earned, much like an entrepreneur. It is a hard life, but can be a rich life (link to post about life in the slow season). Rich is not rich, but rich in flexibility, however that has train has left without you this time.
THE BREAKDOWN, YES IT IS EPIC
Then it creeps up,
A breakdown or moment of helplessness on the level of reality TV, let it hit…
This moment will be terrible, more terrible the longer you have been at the job and/or comfortable you are working there.
How can one cope with having this taken away? This is it, au revoir, good bye.
IT GETS BETTER (TRUST ME)
Worse things will happen than losing a job. I’m sure I said it before in this post, but everything gets better. The new job/career will be a great change of pace. Being dynamic is one trait that makes people especially those in the restaurant life. Be dynamic in what comes next, no different than when dealing with picky eaters or many modifications to dishes.
Are you serious? How does it get better?
Easy, all the experience from the previous job will make you valuable at a new job…and its gives a great story to tell when looking for a new job. Stories sell; in this case you are selling skills and experience for a new job.
A new job will be better as it will lead to new opportunities and possibly even a path out of the industry or that management position you always desired.
Carve the Path
At this point you are left with great place to start. Now it is time to see the fork in the road, hopefully there are many “tines” in this road. The more the merrier in this case. Remember not to fear this situation, it is an opportunity to create a new path for yourself. Rush into a new position if you need to, if not take it slow and possibly visit a road less traveled.
There is no punishment for trying something new, maybe you like to talk to people about cars or real estate. Sales is always a great alternative to the restaurant industry with a similar skill set needed. Do not be afraid to try something new, maybe you always had a desire to build websites or start a business providing assistance to dogs.
Go ahead, start telling your story or building a business. It takes about 5 minutes to start a basic blog on a hosted site that you can customize, WordPress Hosting.
Maybe read a book or two to help you get in the mindset of starting a business with very little. We reccomend The $100 Startup by Chris Gillabeau. It is has the wonderful story of man who lost his job in sales and took a 180 degree turn from the world of corporate sales to never wearing a suit and tie against his will again.
Sudden job loss in restaurants are an opportunity that doesn’t happen frequently to seasoned professionals; there is such a great talent pool in this industry. Take the time to explore all the forks in the road and create a path that works best for you. This article is not about taking a particular path, but finding the best one for you. We also want you to cope with that horrible feeling of desperation and confusion when the bad news comes.
Best of luck in your job search if this has happened recently, has already happened or does in the future. This recently happened to me for the 3rd time and the news didn’t change much, only what I did when I wasn’t working.
This will always happen as long as humans are providing service in restaurants and in the full service segments, that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Spread the word with the whole staff!