Rock’N Fish in Manhattan Beach celebrated its 20th anniversary last month and then found out they’d have to lay off or furlough their entire staff of 54 people.
“We were fired the day before Thanksgiving,” said bartender Gregor Losson.
Like many in the restaurant industry, owner Michael Zislis spent thousands of dollars upgrading the outdoor space of the eaterie so that it could reopen. Now with Los Angeles County’s health order banning outdoor dining, they have to close again.
“Our wonderful L.A. County Supervisors decided to shut us down before Thanksgiving. … As an executive who runs a company or two, you just never lay people off at Thanksgiving,” Zislis said. “Three weeks might become four to six weeks. Who knows?”
An estimated 700,000 people in the food industry will be out of work due to the shutdown, with the majority earning $50,000 or less, according to the L.A. Economic Development Corporation.
“I’ve been working here for 14 years,” server Karin Wodzynski said. “Some of us work paycheck to paycheck. … I’m a mother. I have kids. … How are we gonna survive?”
In an effort to give back to his employees, Zislis is selling gift cards online and for the next two weeks, 50% will go to laid off workers with a goal of giving each of them $500.
“To see everybody come in to get their last check was so disheartening,” he said.