‘We’re worried for our jobs’: The impact of online-only classes on Sac State eateries, employees

Managers question whether their businesses can stay open


Brooke Uhlenhop

An employee at the Roost in the University Union at Sac State serves food to a customer in September, 2019. The transition to online classes due to coronavirus concerns is forcing some eateries at Sacramento State to cut their hours, or close until further notice.

Erick Salgado

The transition to online classes at Sacramento State has forced University Enterprises, Inc. and campus eateries to cut business hours, resulting in a loss of work hours for many employees. 

A letter sent by UEI Dining Services to its employees explained that changes in business hours of operations and closures of several stores will be implemented for the rest of the semester, resulting in fewer available work hours. 

“This will result in a limited number of work hours available for our part-time student staff members,” the letter said. “For now, we encourage you to work with your managers and supervisors to determine your availability to continue working in your respective venues.”

RELATED: Sac State to suspend most in-person classes over coronavirus concerns

UEI and the university have not yet announced the specifics about which eateries will be closing and which will cut hours, but some campus employees have already expressed their concerns. 

Gyro 2 Go expects to face financial difficulty due to a loss of business. This could result in layoffs, said floor manager Hadi Kakar.

“For the time being we’re just putting everything on stop and see how long this actually takes, but if it takes longer then of course we’ll have to lay off because we gotta pay rent,” Kakar said. “Regardless if you’re closed, you gotta pay bills.”

Kakar added that while the situation is going to affect his business, it’s more likely going to affect his employees. 

“We don’t know when we’re coming back because we’re losing our jobs and meanwhile we’re not here, we’re not getting paid. That’s our main concern,” said Gyro 2 Go employee Ahmed Sadiq. “Until there’s a solution, we’re worried for our jobs. This is my only job.”

In the SacSend email announcing the transition to online classes, Sac State President Robert Nelsen reiterated that campus “will remain open and in operation.” He added that residence halls and dining services will remain open for the rest of the semester.

Restaurants on campus have already experienced problems due to the lack of sales, some campus employees said. Restaurants have since started cutting employees’ hours. 

“The last two weeks have been really low financially and especially this week. We’ve been making half of what we’re used to making,” said Estela Valle, manager at Panda Express in Riverfront. “The employees are definitely going to be affected.” 

Panda Express has an option for employees to transfer to another location, and many employees will do that, Valle said. Others face a potential loss of hours.

“Some people that worked two days, they’ll be getting one. Some who worked four will now be working two,” Valle said. 

All UEI employees’ employment status will remain active regardless of whether they work throughout the rest of the semester, the UEI Dining Services letter said. 

This is a developing story and will be updated when more information is gathered.