- Michael Urbach spent almost 30 years in the restaurant industry before becoming an Uber Eats driver.
- He said he couldn’t imagine ever returning to hospitality.
- Urbach told Insider’s Grace Dean why he took the step.
This article as told is based on a conversation with Michael Urbach, a 51-year-old Uber Eats driver in the Los Angeles area. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I have spent nearly three decades running restaurants – but left the industry during the pandemic and have no plans to return.
I am now an Uber Eats driver and have about the same amount of money, but have a lot more flexible hours. It means that I can spend more time with my children. And my overall quality of life is much better too.
I started out as a waiter straight out of high school and started running restaurants when I was 23. Since then, I have been the General Manager of several full-service, quick-service restaurants, including some well-known chains.
But when the pandemic hit in March 2020, the restaurant I was managing closed and the industry was in turmoil as restaurants laid off workers or cut their hours. No one was hiring and I couldn’t find a job.
So I started working as
driver in September 2020 following the recommendation of a friend.
It was amazing how quickly I was able to make money, even though my income can change dramatically from week to week.
I earned around $ 3,600 in February 2020 when I was working in the restaurant industry. As an Uber Eats driver, I was making an average of around $ 1,250 per week in April 2021 and $ 900 per week in October 2021. (The insider consulted documentation verifying Urbach’s income.)
I have two young children and I look after them with their mother. I usually take care of them for a week at a time, and now I am able to balance my schedule much more easily. When I take care of my children, I take weekends and only work five or six hours while they are in school. And when I don’t have kids, I work every day from around 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
And my phone doesn’t ring on weekends either. I have my weekends with my kids and there is nothing that distracts me from them.
In my old jobs, I was lucky to have a week where I worked less than 45 hours. I often worked until 11 p.m. or midnight. Fortunately, the family could look after my children, but otherwise the child care would have cost me a fortune.
Some of the restaurants I worked at weren’t open that late and I was able to have better work hours, but those roles often involved a pay cut.
And as a general manager in the restaurant industry, you engage in your work around the clock. The only stress-free days I had were Christmas Day and Thanksgiving, when restaurants usually closed.
Restaurant staffing has always been a problem in my nearly 30 years of working in the industry. It’s an industry with an incredibly high turnover rate because most people don’t consider a career in it and just see it as a stepping stone.
However, the understaffing has worsened in recent months. The pandemic has made more hotel workers aware that they are underpaid, work long hours and are not sociable and deal with rude managers and customers on a daily basis. .
And now people don’t want to work in the industry anymore.
Restaurants close early or for whole days, or close their dining rooms because they can’t find enough workers, and the remaining staff are overworked.
I believe what we are seeing happening is a change in the industry, which should have happened many years ago. We are going to see many restaurants change the way they do business or simply close their doors.
Do you have a story about the labor shortage? Email this reporter at [email protected]