I often ask myself if the restrictions, closures of businesses, and the uncertainty of year 2020 means companies have used the pandemic to offer fewer services, even as businesses start to open back up.
Some restaurants are still not offering in-person dining service. Some long-standing menu items are still not available. We also see a reduction in products and services as a result of the pandemic. For example, a hotel that used to offer free made-to-order breakfast now hands out premade meals that are not as tasty, but the price of the hotel room has not decreased to match the lower level of service that is now being offered.
Restaurant and hotel owners and managers have been complaining they are not getting applicants with interest in their jobs. I agree with the assessment of many that the additional $600 per week in unemployment from the federal government was a deterrence to seeking employment, but I also think that for years, the restaurant and hotels have been paying substandard wages. The pandemic may have shown us that these positions have been underpaid for far too long. It has therefore become the responsibility of customers to subsidize the incomes of wait staff and bar staff. As customers have seen their options for meals decrease during the pandemic, many have to wonder when their service will again match the amount of money they are spending for food.
Although most states are open for business, some restaurants have not opted to go back to the range of services they offered pre-COVID. This is frustrating, because customers are ready to spend money and enjoy life as they did before. Precautions are important and can still be enforced, but when customers are being charged the same rate or higher than before, with less robust experiences, that's not cool.
COVID is still with us, and we must be vigilant and cautious. The more people who get vaccinated, the more quickly we can get back to a normal America. But businesses must not forget the customers who have been supporting them through this difficult time, and they must show their appreciation the best way they can.
This is a moment when businesses should be offering even more products and services to take care of their loyal customers.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co. He is an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."