By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The Alabama Department of Public Health has increased social gathering guidelines to include Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Blount, Walker, St. Clair and Shelby Counties. The department has ordered the closure of restaurant dining areas, forcing many businesses to offer to-go or delivery only.
Servers at local restaurants say they will virtually lose most of their income during this time. Governor Kay Ivey said the changes will be re-evaluated in one week. But in the meantime, families will be left trying to figure out how to pay the bills.
One server at Olive Garden in Trussville said she is a full-time student at Lawson State and she has three children under the age of 12 at home and her husband works as a cook at the restaurant. She did not want her name used in this story but she said the effects on restaurant employees could be devastating.
“It’s going to impact us financially,” she said. “They don’t have the hours for us. We can try and help out on to-go, but to-go hours and to-go pay will not pay the rent.”
The server said a lot of times, people don’t know to tip to-go servers. She hopes regular customers continue to give back to the staff at restaurants.
“We are the frontline of Olive Garden and we need to be taken care of,” she said. “We see some of these guests on a daily or weekly basis. We are who they deal with.”
Olive Garden is offering surplus food and items that are not picked up from customers to the employees. The Harvest program is usually offered to those in the community who are in need. But now, some of their own are the ones in need.
Some of the servers at Olive Garden hope the state or federal government is able to come through for them.
“Anything is better than nothing, but assistance isn’t going to be what we make in tips,” the server explained.
So remember, next time you pick up your to-go order, don’t forget to add a tip.
Olive Garden has changed its hours to Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Other local businesses are also making changes. A list of those changes can be viewed by clicking here.