Coronavirus pandemic takes heavy toll on restaurant owners and employees

Restaurants and bars lose billions amid pandemic

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 7:27 PM EDT

With restaurants and bars across the country closed or limited to take-out service, the industry lost an estimated $25 billion in sales in the first three weeks of March. Three million jobs have been lost over the same period.

It's a devastating blow to an industry where many survive week-to-week and paycheck to paycheck.

A delivery man in Terrytown, New York, is none other than former "Top Chef" contestant Dale Talde.

Talde had to lay off 44 employees at his restaurant, Goosefeather, and is barely surviving on take-out and deliveries. So, when he got a 50% tip, it was overwhelming.

"You know we have five people left in the restaurant," Talde told CBS News. "It's like, we're just doing our best to keep —  they have families to feed, they have mortgages to pay. 

"We're lucky if we make 10 cents out of every dollar," Talde added. "We're a small business that feeds into a larger ecosystem."

In the first three weeks of March, restaurant sales were down 47% nationwide. Seven out of 10 owners laid off employees and cut work hours, and, according to industry analysts, 5 million to 7 million people could lose their jobs in the coming weeks.

Server Emily Tucker already lost hers, forcing her to line up for free food in Houston. "If this keeps going on for months and longer, I guess I start looking at another career, which, this has been my whole life, so, I don't want to," Tucker said.

A slice of the $2 trillion stimulus package is being served to restaurants, including loans — with interest — to cover 2.5 months of payroll, and tax breaks.

Up to 100% of the loan amount may be forgiven by the SBA if the small business keeps all its employees on the payroll for 8 weeks. 

Delfina Cardona has owned Cardona's in Chicago for 18 years. She laid off 10 of her 12 employees. "They're like, you know, don't feel bad about us. You do what you have to do," she said. " I feel like this is a nightmare."

She doesn't think the stimulus will be enough. So, every day she works her own grill, and every night she prays for her employees.