Thousands of San Diegans are out of a job right before the holidays because of the regional stay-at-home order, which requires some businesses to close or limit operations.
Despite all the work that many restaurant owners have put into outdoor dining, they’re now limited to offering to-go orders and delivery only. Tania Warchol, the owner of Hob Nob Hill, said she invested about $15,000 in her patio to comfortably accommodate her guests and now it won’t be used for at least three weeks.
Warchol said she had to make the difficult decision to temporarily lay off at least 12 of her employees during the stay-at-home order, including Jennette McCullough, one of the restaurant's servers.
“Everything about Hob Nob is everything that I love: the customers, the employees, all of my friends that I’ve made throughout the years, they all mean everything to me,” McCullough said.
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For the first time in more than a decade, McCulloughwon’t be spending the holidays with them. Sunday was McCullough’s last shift, at least for now, and she’s wondering how she’ll make it through the next few weeks. She said her husband, who is also in the service industry, had his job spared, but she worries her unemployment benefits won’t be enough and they’ll be stuck choosing between which bills to pay.
“I cut everything back to the bare minimum way back in March, and so now, even with the bare minimum, this next shutdown could be financially devastating for us,” McCullough said.
“It hurts my heart," said Warchol, who said that layoffs are the most difficult part of the shutdown. "It’s very painful.”
Warchol said her goal is to generate enough business from to-go orders to get her staff back to work, even if it’s just a few hours per employee.
“We’re doing the takeout so that we can bring people back and give them some hours," Warchol said. "It’s not going to be profit. It’s just going to be to help out the workers, to keep them with a small paycheck. You know, everything helps at this moment."
McCullough said she’s grateful for Warchol, her fellow co-workers and the regulars that have helped them survive through the pandemic.
“It’s all in God’s hands," McCullough. "It’s not in mine. And somehow, he’ll help us through this all.”