COVID-19 has caused some Edmonton servers to leave the industry while others work longer days

Businesses have been picking up with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, but the thrill of everything opening up might be too high since some aren’t as eager to get back to work.

Some restaurants, like MKT, which has the biggest patio in Edmonton, aren’t seeing as many resumés for serving jobs coming in compared to a few months ago or even pre-pandemic.

MKT general manager Steven Sachse thinks the pandemic has changed priorities for a lot of people in the service industry after it took a massive hit.

“I think that people are valuing their time a little bit more,” Sachse said.

“Being alone and being in quarantine and shutdowns and not being able to go about your daily lives, I think that that has maybe changed people a little bit and just what they value. Is it worth it to work an incredible amount of hours? Or maybe it’s more important to spend time with friends, family and be out and camping and all that kind of stuff. ”

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Sachse does think resumés will pick up again come July 1, when everything in Alberta is fully open.

“The restaurant industry is always that fast-pace, high-stress environment and obviously, a chance to make money when you want to. I think we’ll kind of see what happens,” Sachse said.

“I think it’s just time to get out, have a great time and party responsibly and forget that this last year never existed.”

The pandemic has forced a lot of people to slow down. Meagan Mccartney used her time off from serving to find a new career.

“A lot of my time and my energy within the last year has been dedicated towards finding different employment and exiting the service industry altogether,” she said.

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Last weekend was Mccartney’s last shift in the service industry after working for JOEY Restaurant Group for a decade.

“I loved what I did but you do get sick of that roller-coaster of a ride, opening and closing, COVID protocol,” Mccartney said.

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“If I had nine days in the week, I’d still be in the industry, but I only have seven, and two of those days I need for self-care.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton restaurants reopening dining rooms as Alberta moves into Stage 2 of the ‘Open for Summer’ plan' Edmonton restaurants reopening dining rooms as Alberta moves into Stage 2 of the ‘Open for Summer’ plan

Edmonton restaurants reopening dining rooms as Alberta moves into Stage 2 of the ‘Open for Summer’ plan – Jun 10, 2021

Mccartney is one of those people whose priorities changed during the pandemic.

“A lot of people have reavaluated and reajusted their expectations of how they want to live their life, myself as well. I used to be the individual that worked seven days a week and I can’t do it anymore,” Mccartney said.

Read more: Restaurateurs grapple with rising menu prices, food costs amid COVID-19 pandemic

MKT bartender Haylee Phibben is excited to be back working, even if it is longer days and harder work.

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“I would trade all of my days with nothing open, in isolation, in quarantine for any 12-hour, seven-days-a-week shifts,” Phibben said.

“It’s definitely long hours. It’s definitely hard work because there are so many people that are coming in. We have such a high turnover rate for guests that it’s a really hard job, so for some people, it’s too much for them, especially coming out of isolation.”

Phibben also notices a difference in demand with customers.

“It’s definitely changed. The volume is way higher, people are way more excited to be out. People are just like consuming a lot more than what they did before,” Phibben said. “July 1 is just around the corner. It’s going to get better.”

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