Last weekend, Kelsey Rowland and his coworkers at Los Cabos on the Jenks Riverwalk went through business as usual. By Monday, the head bartender worried for his job.

On Tuesday, Rowland and many others in the service industry got the news they feared.

“All the front house staff, servers, bartenders, were pretty much told don’t come back until they call us and let us know,” Rowland said.

Rowland and countless others were laid off as restaurants and bars were closed, some on their own accord and others by local governments, amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Bars have shut down and many restaurants, including Los Cabos, had to change drastically to keep operating. Early Wednesday morning, Los Cabos Mexican Grill announced in a Facebook post the restaurant’s five locations would switch to carry-out and delivery only “for the unforeseeable future.”

Rowland said he remains stunned at how quickly the situation worsened for his industry. He has since filed for unemployment benefits, but there’s a catch.

Unemployment benefits are based off base pay, and with service industry workers like Rowland largely dependent on tips, the safety net won’t cover his typical take-home pay, he said.

Los Cabos has since posted links to an “SOS (support our staff)” page with GoFundMe links to each location and the chain’s general employee fund.

Since the layoff, Rowland has spent most of the last week at home with his girlfriend, Jennifer, her 11-year-old son, Silas, and their 4-year-old son, Theo.

“I’m home a lot with them anyway depending on the work schedule,” Rowland said. “But it’s a little trying. I’ve got to get out of the house every now and again just to run some errands. ... Especially with his age, being a 4-year-old.

“But, you know, we’re managing to keep ourselves entertained.”

For now, Rowland said he’s hopeful some family construction work will come through until things return to normal, whenever that is. There’s still the lingering feelings of surprise and shock, and he said the overall situation is beyond anything he ever imagined.

“We all went through H1N1, but this is the first time they’ve essentially put us on lockdown,” Rowland said. “I’ve got things to keep me occupied for sure.”


Q&A: Filing unemployment claims amid virus-related job losses

Stetson Payne

918-732-8135

stetson.

@tulsaworld.com

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@stetson__payne

Staff Writer

Stetson covers breaking news, general assignment and other stories. He previously worked at the Enterprise-Journal in Mississippi. He is from Broken Arrow and graduated with a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University. Phone: 918-581-8466

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