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COVID: Out-Of-Work Bay Area Bartenders Turned To Delivering Mail During Pandemic Shutdown

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- As the days countdown to the complete business reopening of California, San Francisco Bay Area restaurant and bar owners are struggling to find enough workers.

Hundreds of service industry employees who were laid off during the months of pandemic shutdowns have moved to jobs elsewhere. In some cases, to completely different fields than in their pre-pandemic lives.

In a odd twist, many Bay Area bartenders have found work with the U.S. Postal Service and say they are going to stay put. Among them is Zia Schwartz.

"I had been in the restaurant bar industry since age 16," she told KPIX 5. "It (being a mail carrier) is a good, steady, secure job."

Schwartz said just like tending a bar, she enjoys interacting with residents along her route.

"I think just generally dealing with people," she said of her new job.

Schwartz also says the skills developed during her years behind the bar have carried over -- like encountering barking dogs on her route.

"They (the dogs along her route) come at you aggressively, like a drunk person would," she said with a chuckle. "Things where I have experienced in that area (is) kind of is helpful for this, even though it doesn't seem like they would cross over. They do."

Johnny Codd, who met and married Schwartz when they worked together as bartenders, also has made the switch.

"There's a family aspect to the post office as well, he said. "You make friends quick...It's all postal talk now."

Heather Hauri also has made the switch. She used to own a speakeasy in Oakland, now she also delivers mail for the postal service.

"I know three bartenders that are mail carriers and they don't wanna go back," she told KPIX 5. "There is competition to hire people now because everyone's hiring, but a lot of us changed industries."

Codd says he's turned down offers to return to the bar.

"I've gotten a couple offers, but I'm still not sure," he said. "It's just not the same as it was. It's not as busy. People are still scared to go out."

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