People working in a Restaurant are quitting in the middle of their shifts

Joshuah Morton, 36, has worked as a server at a Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona for about four years. Morton is diabetic, and has a four-year-old son with an immune deficiency. When the pandemic hit, he stopped working, fearing for their health. But by October he was ready to return to work.

“Sitting at home all the time was getting depressing,” he said. And of course, the money was an incentive.

Back then, Morton noticed that the restaurant was having a had time bringing employees back. Once it started bringing new people on board, many of those caved under the pressure.

“People are just walking out in the middle of shifts,” Morton said. “[Hostesses who] seat the tables, the dishwashers, the bussers … they’ll walk out,” he said.

Morton understands why people might quit. After waiting to be seated, customers arrive at their tables “already angry, already wanting to complain about things,” he said. A few weeks ago one employee started to cry because a customer was so mean to her.

On top of all that, there are for more takeout orders than there used to be. “It’s almost like we’re running double the restaurant, comparatively, with half the staff.” Darden, the owner of Cheddar’s, did not respond to a request for comment.

Morton has contemplated quitting himself.

“I don’t think there’s any server who hasn’t been tempted to quit,” he said. “Especially right now.”

But for now, he’s getting what he needs from Cheddar’s. Darden is “by far one of the better” employers he’s had, Morton said. Darden recently raised wages for employees, and offers health benefits, which are especially important given Morton’s medical costs. Morton is also going to school for biochemistry, so the flexible hours are important to him. “That’s the big reason why I’m here,” he said. “It’s hard to find a job where I can work 30 hours a week, and still make $35,000 a year.” That salary, along with the rent he collects from his brother, is enough to support himself, his wife and their son. “I don’t know what else I would do.”

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