This is a love letter to all of my employees, co-workers and fellow hospitality management,
The last few days have been so hard for everyone. When I learned that we would be closing our dining room services for at least 4 weeks on Sunday, I had mixed feelings—part relief that we all had the opportunity to socially distance ourselves and help slow down the spread of Coronavirus. The biggest part of me was absolutely heartbroken what that meant for our 50+ employees at our restaurant. These are the hardest times right now, and I sincerely wish I had the power to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I could to save you all. I have no power over this. None of us do. I’ve been crying for the past 3 days because I love you all so very much and it has been an absolute honor and privilege to be your AGM these past 2 years.
I know exactly how you’re feeling right now, and it’s absolutely terrible. Some of you don’t know that I’ve been through a lay-off, too. Back in 2008 during The Great Recession I was laid off from my editor job at a publishing house. I didn’t see it coming. I had graduated from journalism school and was just beginning my journey as a journalist (my childhood dream). It felt even worse because just 2 months before the day I was laid off, my brother died in a tragic accident. I had just come back to work from bereavement leave and was trying to distract my sadness and depression after losing my brother. Obviously everything felt even more intense.
I lived off of unemployment for almost 2 years—applying for jobs, internships, freelance gigs, whatever I could to stay above ground. I worked so many odd jobs during that time, but nothing that could financially support me. Unfortunately there weren’t any more journalism jobs to go around for the other thousands who lost their jobs, too. I even volunteered at a children’s hospital during my unemployment because I wanted to make a positive difference in kids’ lives. That “job” was the best and most meaningful experience of my life, and I wouldn’t change any part of it. It has helped shape me into the person I am today.
After not finding work for 2 years I decided to chase a passion of mine and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. My time at the CIA, and meeting all of the beautiful humans I had the amazing opportunity to learn from and work with, were some of the best years of my life.
After graduating I settled in the Bay Area and worked so many industry jobs—food stylist, line cook, pastry chef, food truck operator, catering coordinator, I can’t remember them all. But then times got really tough in the Bay, and the increasing cost of living (and a really shitty living situation) led me to being homeless. Yes, homeless. Luckily, I had such a huge community of friends who helped keep a roof over my head, and I slept on couches, mattresses, and spare rooms for a few months while I looked for an apartment. That proved to be difficult because my line cook wages couldn’t afford me a studio or 1BR apartment. After couch surfing for a few months, I gave up on living in the Bay Area. I exhausted all of my resources, but I am so grateful for that time. It humbled me immensely.
Then I did something absolutely crazy. I followed the advice of my astrologer (who I had an amazing in-person reading with on my birthday!) and moved to Portland. (I had fallen in love with the city when my friend Erika and I vacationed there for a weekend over the summer.) The thing is, I had nothing to move to. I had set up job interviews and viewing appointments for apartments but I didn’t know a soul in the city. I had phone numbers of friends of friends but no guarantees. I stayed at an Airbnb for a week with the goal of finding a job and apartment in that week. Omg I was ambitious, wasn’t I?
As you can imagine I didn’t find work. Or an apartment. But I did meet amazing friends who helped put a roof over my head and some interior design assistant work. But the hustle continued because I needed full-time work to secure an apartment. I applied for every and any job I could.
I did find an apartment during those early days thanks to my amazing friend Mel, who literally took me under her wing and saved me from homelessness in Portland. For that, I am eternally grateful to her.
My hope is that by sharing my tumultuous roller coaster of a journey, it will let you know how much I relate (who knows how long I will have my job), and that I will always have your back. I’m here for you. We are a family. What we do during these hard times will either break us or make us stronger. I know that you will choose the latter.
Stay strong, safe and healthy.