Pandemic Closures Devastate Restaurant Industry’s Middle Class

A sous-chef’s search for job security shows how cooks, managers and servers at upscale dining establishments have been hit hard by the pandemic.

by Noam Scheiber
New York Times

On the day in September when he was hired as a cook at Fulton Market Kitchen — a restaurant in Chicago featuring shrimp and grits and miso-glazed halibut — Jeff Danaher asked the chef about his plans for the winter.

“He was like, ‘I’m open four days a week, and I’m trying to go to seven,’” recalled Mr. Danaher, who had been out of work for months. “It was a huge relief.”

But five weeks later, indoor dining in the city came to a halt. Mr. Danaher, who made nearly $50,000 per year before the pandemic and had his pick of positions in recent years, was suddenly jobless again.

“After about the second or third week into Covid,” he said, “I got scared for my job security in a way that I never had before in 10 years of cooking.”

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