Restaurant industry struggles with closures and layoffs due to coronavirus: "This was their livelihood"

Restaurants grapple with virus precautions

Restaurants across the U.S. have been required to alter their operations in order to survive, with several cities and states shutting down bars and restaurants over the coronavirus pandemic. Shifting to take out only is the only way some eateries can stay in business, requiring fewer employees and altered menus, to varying degrees of success. 

The shift has also been difficult on restaurant workers facing layoffs and reduced hours. Ashley Gregg, a bartender in Ohio, was let go while still facing medical bills for her young son who died of cancer in 2018. 

"We have medical bills and everything that we need to catch up on," Gregg told CBS News' Vladimir Duthiers. However, she said, she was "more concerned about the owners" of the brewery that let her go. 

"I'm concerned about them because, you know, this was their livelihood," Gregg said. 

Outside of Ohio, bar and restaurant owners across the country have had to make equally difficult calls. 

New York City cocktail bar "Nobody Told Me" had been open for nearly a year when co-owner Nick Pfannerstill had to pare down their menu in an unsuccessful bid to try and stay open through the pandemic.

"I mean, for us, we have some money set aside. We're gonna try to keep it there as long as possible. But hopefully just being able to run with delivery and take out options for a bit, it's gonna be able to help," Pfannerstill said. 

Since speaking to CBS News, he and his partner decided they needed to shutter completely. 

Another New York restauranteur, Emmeline Zhao, received a grant from the non-profit, Rethink Food. The money allows her to offer discounted take out at her Little Tong Noodle Shops as well as pay her staff, though she still worries for the future.

"Who's not worried?" She asked. "I think that the best thing that we can do right now as members of this community with a means to provide, is to be that beacon of hope and inspiration that things will get better."