DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Many restaurants are struggling to remain open during the widespread closures mandated amid the coronavirus outbreak. Finding innovative ways to keep serving the public and keep staff employed is a challenge that's two-fold.
Manuela in downtown LA is one of the many restaurants trying to continue to serve the public, and its employees during this challenging time.
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Packing takeout orders is not what General Manager Amanda Craig is used to doing. Manuela never had pick up or delivery services prior to the ordered closures, but times have changed.
“It was kind of a scramble to get takeaway and delivery up and going quickly. It was something we had to create from scratch in the course of two days,” said Craig.
Being a leader at the restaurant has been tough during the coronavirus pandemic. Craig has had to furlough most of her team knowing this will leave them in a vulnerable position.
“It’s been a struggle, because you want to help as many people as you can. Furlough keeps them on roster. They can get unemployment benefits as needed, allowing their insurance to continue,” said Craig.
Another way Manuela is serving its employees is by literally serving them warm meals. Most restaurant workers get a staff meal during their shift, but now, seven days a week, even a furloughed member can come by to take home a family meal. Craig wanted to do whatever she could to alleviate some of the pressure.
“Everyone is also financially strained right now. So, how can we give back to our family even though we had to furlough them for the time being and allow them to at least have a meal a day they are not paying for that they can take to their family as well,” said Craig.
The restrictions have not only impacted the hourly workers, but those in higher positions as well. Craig, along with other members of management, have taken a pay cut, all to try to keep this model sustainable for as long as possible.
“Manuela has always been about family and how we take care of our own," said Craig. "And how we make the community feel like family. How do we sustain that and maintain that given the restrictions right now and how do we do it safely?”
Craig says the goal right now isn’t to make money, it is to help their employees and community who have become family.
Many restaurants have posted their updated menus, along with delivery and takeout options on their social media pages and websites.