Restaurant owner blames Covid unemployment payouts for slow service

Restaurant owner blames Covid unemployment payouts for slow service
Taqueria that received PPP loans defends sign and says it ‘pays well’, amid accusations of hypocrisy

The owner of a California restaurant has asked customers to be patient with slow service after blaming Covid checks for staff not wanting to work.

In a flyer, first reported by CBS Sacramento on Sunday, the Taco Loco restaurant in Folsom is informing customers that it is short staffed because “no one wants to work anymore”.

The taqueria adds that Covid benefits for the unemployed, which were extended until September by the US federal government and state of California, were at fault.

“To our loyal customers. Sadly, due to government and state handouts no one wants to work anymore. Therefore, we are short staffed,” the Taco Loco flyer reads.

It then asks customers to “be patient with our staff that did choose to come to work today to serve you.”

Republicans have used the issue of unemployment to attack Democrats for supporting the extension of an additional Covid unemployment benefit of $300 (£216) a month.

Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted on Sunday that businesses including Taco Loco “are suffering because blue states are paying workers to stay at home.”

The Republican and her colleagues in Congress have claimed that benefits are preventing people from returning to work after the American unemployment rate reached 14.8 per cent in 2020 April.

In June, the same figure was at 5.9 per cent, with 850,000 jobs added.

On Facebook, the Taco Loco flyer was ridiculed for being “a really stupid thing”, with a handful of users accusing the owner of Taco Loco of hypocrisy.

“Restaurants and other ‘hospitality’ businesses apparently don’t know (or understand) how to be ‘hospitable’ after receiving very generous government handouts,” wrote a Facebook user.

“Even the big banks and corporations that were bailed out in 2008 figured out really quickly not to be caught arrogantly crowing that they were doing ‘God’s work’ and collecting millions in taxpayer-funded salaries, bonuses, and benefits.”

While it was not clear if Taco Loco last year received any help from the federal government, the owner responded to criticism by writing that it pays “very well [and] better then most restaurants”.

According to a ProPublica search, a Taco Loco in Folsom received two federal government loans amounting to $414,658 (£298,492), from March to May 2020.

The restaurant has been approached for further comment.