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Restaurant employees struggling to make ends meet amid COVID-19 pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands in the restaurant and hospitality industry have lost their jobs and are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. One Memphian is asking for more to be done for hospitality employees.

Mitchell Lovelace has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years.

“I love the atmosphere, I love the food, I love the people. It’s an industry I want to stay in for the rest of my life, I think. And it has its ups and downs,” said Mitchell Lovelace, restaurant employee.

But with the recent fallout from COVID-19, there has been many more downs for Lovelace.

“What’s happened is devastating,” said Lovelace.

He was working happily as waiter at a Memphis restaurant which he asked us not to name.

The manager at that restaurant has put Lovelace on a zero-hour work schedule — so while he still has a job, he isn’t making an income and he doesn’t qualify for unemployment.

“Because we can’t actually get a separation notice, Latest Memphis News because we’re technically not laid off,” said Lovelace.

Sunday he and his wife, who works at the same restaurant, are being evicted.

They can’t make rent, and because they pay month-to-month, they didn’t have a lease and do not fall under the exceptions for evictions.

The only thing getting him through these incredibly difficult times are long walks in the sunny weather.

“That’s actually been something that’s helped us cope emotionally with it,” said Lovelace.

Lovelace says he’s seen similar situations for many people out of work all over Memphis, especially in the hard-hit hospitality and restaurant industry.


He says all he wants to do is to work and support his family -- and any work at all would help.


By Chris Luther | April 5, 2020 at 9:59 PM CDT - Updated April 5 at 10:51 PM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands in the restaurant and hospitality industry have lost their jobs and are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. One Memphian is asking for more to be done for hospitality employees.

Mitchell Lovelace has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years.

“I love the atmosphere, I love the food, I love the people. It’s an industry I want to stay in for the rest of my life, I think. And it has its ups and downs,” said Mitchell Lovelace, restaurant employee.

But with the recent fallout from COVID-19, there has been many more downs for Lovelace.

“What’s happened is devastating,” said Lovelace.

He was working happily as waiter at a Memphis restaurant which he asked us not to name.

The manager at that restaurant has put Lovelace on a zero-hour work schedule — so while he still has a job, he isn’t making an income and he doesn’t qualify for unemployment.


“Because we can’t actually get a separation notice, because we’re technically not laid off,” said Lovelace.

Sunday he and his wife, who works at the same restaurant, are being evicted.

They can’t make rent, and because they pay month-to-month, Press Release Distribution Service they didn’t have a lease and do not fall under the exceptions for evictions.

The only thing getting him through these incredibly difficult times are long walks in the sunny weather.

“That’s actually been something that’s helped us cope emotionally with it,” said Lovelace.

Lovelace says he’s seen similar situations for many people out of work all over Memphis, especially in the hard-hit hospitality and restaurant industry.

He says all he wants to do is to work and support his family -- and any work at all would help.


“Just a little opportunity for employment, would go to the moon and back,” said Lovelace.

Welcome to Memphis has started a COVID-19 fund offering $300 dollar grants for those in the hospitality industry, as well as a $1,000 grant through Tennessee Action for Hospitality.

If anyone wants to help Lovelace, he would be willing to do odd jobs.

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