ON “60 MINUTES”: AS SMALL BUSINESSES AND RESTAURANTS BEAR THE BRUNT OF THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE VIRUS, SOME ADAPT AND HELP EACH OTHER
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Workers in restaurants and other small businesses are among the first and hardest hit in the COVID-19 virus crisis. While employees of shuttered restaurants and idled businesses await financial assistance from stimulus checks and loans, some are helping each other and creatively adapting to the predicament they find themselves in. Scott Pelley reports on the effects of the virus on those businesses and their efforts to overcome them in New York, the epicenter of the outbreak, on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, April 5 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The numbers of workers losing their incomes skyrocket each day. Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack and a very successful restaurateur who runs 20 restaurants, says many are employed by eateries. “There’s about 660,000 restaurants in America,” says Meyers. “You can do the math on how many human beings are actively working producing something of real value by bringing people together, and they’re out of work right now.”
Meyer has started a non-profit charity offering grants to his former employees. There are many. “We’ve laid off over 2,000 people by now,” Meyers tells Pelley.
Small manufacturers that supply larger industries that are suffering closures and downturns in demand get caught in the ripple effect. “We laid off about 25 percent of our staff, about 30 people. We made, basically, a pay-cut across the board for everyone, so a wage reduction,” says Michael Bednark, owner of a Brooklyn design and fabrication company making displays for retail businesses.
Bednark found a way to keep his business open with the help of a partner. The new effort not only keeps people working, it provides a critical weapon to fight the virus. Bednark’s company is now making 27,000 face shields a day for hospital workers on the front lines. The New York Health Department wants to buy half a million of them. Says Bednark, “We’ve probably hired close to 100 ourselves. There’s probably about 300 to 400 people working on this project. We have truck drivers, and we have auxiliary people working on it.”
His employees are being charitable in the tough times, sharing their hours with colleagues. “We had some employees offering to split their weeks. So, they’d do 20 hours and then have their counterpart do 20 hours that week just to sort of keep people working and keep people busy and keep people getting paid,” says Bednark.
Bednark’s creative effort is also paying dividends for the hard-hit restaurant business. The entrepreneur is sharing his newfound income with Brooklyn restaurants forced to shutter and become take-out only. “Every day we get a new lunch served by a local restaurant. They deliver 160 boxed lunches.”
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