September 23, 2022

Essential workers: Labor Day is a day for restaurant and zoo workers | New

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the idea of ​​essential workers to the fore.

Which workers could the nation not do without? Americans seemed to learn during the pandemic how dependent they are on restaurant workers.

Many of these same workers were the ones who worked on Mondays, serving others who went out to dinner during the holidays.

Labor Day was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894. The country’s workers are celebrated because they have “raised the nation’s standard of living and contributed to the greatest production the world has ever known”, according to Ministry of Labour.

A quick drive through Victoria revealed that many restaurants remained open throughout the holiday.

Binh Pham, 47, of Port Lavaca and a longtime resident of Victoria, owns Texas Seafood, 304 E. Rio Grande St. His restaurant was one of many open for Labor Day.

The atmosphere inside was upbeat and welcoming. Some of his employees seemed not to care about working during the holidays, but rather seemed to enjoy the time spent together and with their clients.

Diners David and Cynthia Garcia stopped by Texas Seafood on Monday afternoon for a bite to eat and said to their waitress, Teresa Diaz, “thank you for working today.” She smiled and replied that she was glad they came in.

“It’s pretty simple why we’re here on vacation,” Pham said. “My mother taught me that if I wanted to get into the restaurant business, I had to realize that it was an everyday job. ‘People are hungry every day,’ she said. I had to prepare my mindset for this schedule.”

Pham’s mother owned a restaurant before him. He’s had his for 14 years now.

Pham said his restaurant thrives during the holidays, with many scheduled birthday parties and family reservations. He said many families who came in the early hours had children with them.

“I made a lot of chicken nuggets today,” he said with a smile.

He asked all of his employees on Monday — three cooks, two dishwashers and three waitresses — to come into the dining room for a photo.

“We’ll all be famous,” he joked with them. Her energy was contagious and everyone was all smiles, including the many patrons of the tidy establishment.

Waitress Kayla Walden had an obvious love for her work and dedication to her colleagues and Pham. She said she doesn’t mind working a Labor Day shift at all — a good boss does a good job.

A few blocks from Texas Seafood, Raven’s Family Dining, 1326 Red River Drive, was also open for business. Owners Jeff and Revel Moore said they were open on Labor Day by mistake.

“We opened today because we just forgot we were closed last year,” Revel Moore said. “We were sitting here and my husband said he was going to look at the books and see how we were doing that day last year. He came back and said, ‘You know what? We were closed last year on Labor Day. So we were opened by mistake.”

Revel said at least 30 customers came to eat and bowl at the establishment, so it was a pretty decent day’s work.

She and her husband bought the business in 2016, she said. They were the only two working there on Labor Day.

Further down the road, at the Texas Zoo, 110 Memorial Drive, a brand new zoo director worked all day with seven zoo employees.

Matthew Waterhouse, a native of Duluth, Minnesota, ran the Texas Zoo for three days starting Monday and said 200 people visited the zoo on Labor Day.

“I love it. I had never been to Victoria in my life. I have about 20 years of zoology under my belt, mostly in Florida,” Waterhouse said. “I’ve always wanted to direct, so it’s great. People are very friendly here.”

Waterhouse joked with the last visitors leaving the zoo for the day, around 5 p.m., then posed for a photo near his favorite animals at the zoo – four alligators, two males and two females.

“I worked for Gator Land in Orlando,” he said. “I have a special place in my heart for alligators.”

Come to think of it, the animals were also on duty on Labor Day, helping to give families a place to enjoy the holidays.