Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality Group
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group laid off about 2,000 workers on Tuesday, citing a “near complete elimination of revenue” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Restaurants across the country are laying off workers as the outbreak closes dining rooms and consumers cook food at home. The National Restaurant Association estimates that between 5 million to 7 million restaurant jobs will be lost over the next three months.
“Never could I have fathomed a time where the only path forward would be to lay people off so they can receive unemployment, while this company fights to see another day when we can return to our full staffing levels,” CEO Danny Meyer said in a statement.
The New York-based restaurant company shuttered all of its restaurants Friday until future notice. Meyer is donating his salary, along with “substantial” pay cuts for executives, to a fund for the company’s employees. Roughly 20% of the company’s workforce remains. USHG is planning to rehire as many employees as possible when conditions permit.
Full-service restaurants are expected to be hit the hardest by the pandemic. Black Box Intelligence found that full-service restaurant traffic declined 3.7% in the week ended March 8. Areas with clusters of the virus, such as Seattle, have seen their restaurants hit even harder.
The National Restaurant Association asked the federal government for financial assistance, including a $145 billion recovery fund for restaurants, a federal loan program and tax measures.
Restaurant workers aren’t the only ones losing their jobs. Marriott International is furloughing tens of thousands of employees, and Norwegian Air is temporarily laying off about 7,300 workers.