Skip to Content

Restaurant owners say the pay they can offer can’t compete with what employees are getting from unemployment

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00
restaurant unemployment

Statewide, both restaurant owners and restaurant workers agree there is a dilemma. Restricting how restaurants reopen mean they cannot offer the same pay they used to. This results in it making more financial sense for some workers to stay on unemployment.

"They make more money now, with unemployment, than working with the restaurant," said Osvaldo Valenzuela, an advocate for restaurant workers in Chicago.

Dan Kouri owns Lariat Steakhouse in Peoria and he says he understands why some employees would not want to return to work.

"Anytime you get a chance to make more money than you're currently making to pay your rent, to make sure that your child has something to eat, to get him school clothes, I get all of that. They need all the money they can possibly have," said Kouri.

But at the same time, Kouri points out this puts him in a difficult legal situation.

"If I call any of those employees and I say 'hey you need to come back to work' and they decide to not come back to work, then that is fraudulent on their behalf and the government will go after them...I become the guy who was once a great employer is now a rat," said Kouri.

So what is the solution? Both Kouri and Valenzuela agree they want to see restaurants return to full operations in a safe manner. Valenzuela says he is not sure when that should come.

"I would like to have the answers, say ok people come back to work with a safe condition, I don't know," he said.

But Kouri says from what he can tell locally, restaurants are ready.

"The government really needs to open up the restaurants at full capacity right now and let us to start to get healthy," said Kouri.

Andy Weber

Skip to content