Although the first day of fall is not until Sept. 21, sweater weather is already upon Poughkeepsie, NY. Though the Hudson Valley’s notorious foliage is starting to become more and more visible with each passing day, not everybody is looking forward to its arrival. And even though this area attracts tourists from near and far during this time of year, it is also this time of year that marks the end of the busy season for local waterfront restaurants.
Being employed as a server in a restaurant is not only unpredictable due to the inability to absolutely predict business or the percentage of gratuity guests will decide to leave, weather also plays a major role. Weather is a major factor that impacts how much business particular restaurants will do in a day. It is the beloved waterfront restaurants of Hudson Valley that’s business begins to decline once the seasons begin to transition from summer to fall.
“This weather sucks.” says Poughkeepsie Ice House employee, Lamar Johnson. “I’m going to have to find another job soon”, admitted Lauren Holohan, Johnson’s co-worker. “A majority of our servers are going to have to be let go since we lose fifty seats in the winter when the patio closes.” Johnson and Holohan said that they both have already received a handful requests from outdoor-seated guests to be moved to indoor seating mid-dining due to the sudden decline in temperature.
“We make our money in the summer, not in the winter.” says Ice House employee, Amber Brown. “We have to manage all the money we make in the summer during the winter. It gets rough and certainly tough at the end of the winter because there is definitely a strong possibility I have to tap into my summer reserve just to make it through the winter.”
“Morale also declines due the weather,” continues Brown, “winter does something to people that makes them depressed which hurts business for most restaurants. Restaurants, such as the Ice House need to consider changing their theme to attract winter diners and makes people consider that we are not just a summer restaurant.”
“We’ve already lost 100 lunches per day and we have seen a consistent decline in business in just two weeks”, stated Ice House Manager Justin LaFalce. “On a Tuesday we were doing 200 lunches per day and in just two weeks we have dropped down to only 100. Dinner has dropped off even more because once the sun goes down, nobody is interested in sitting outside.”
The weather also plays a major factor in determining employee schedules. Restaurants tend to schedule a maximum amount of employees for shifts on anticipated peak business hours. Employees are often being ‘cut’ (a restaurant vocabulary word that means that your shift is over) only two to three hours after clocking in.
C.J. Sharpe, a bartender at Shadow’s On the Hudson, another popular waterfront restaurant, says that when he receives his schedule the day it’s published, there is never a guarantee he will actually work the full 40 hours he is scheduled for. “There are times I am anticipating working a nine hour shift and if it starts to rain, or there is nobody coming in because it is cold or snowing, I’m sent home early.”
Some Ice House employees such as Holohan have already taken initiative and have requested to work at the Ice House’s other restaurant, The Mill. The Mill is located at 46 Vassar Road in the town of Poughkeepsie and because it is not located on the river, management is predicting that it will have a busy winter season. And although Holohan says that so far her weekly Wednesday shift has also been slow, she “strongly believes that business will pick up once it gets colder.”