A Manhattan restaurant owner says about 20% of his staff plan to resign over NYC's vaccine mandate

Advertisement
A Manhattan restaurant owner says about 20% of his staff plan to resign over NYC's vaccine mandate
Art Depole and his brother Nick own the Mooyah restaurant in New York's Times Square. Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes
  • A New York City restaurant co-owner says some of his workers would quit rather than get vaccinated.
  • The city plans to start enforcing a vaccine mandate for restaurant workers after September 13.
  • Some workers at Mooyah, in Times Square, have said they'll leave for retail, a co-owner said.

A fifth of staff members at a Manhattan burger restaurant have said they'll quit if they have to get the COVID-19 vaccine as part of New York City's vaccine mandate, according to one of the restaurant's owners.

Art Depole, who co-owns the Mooyah Burgers, Fries, and Shake restaurant in Times Square, told Insider about a third of his 30 staff members hadn't got the jab yet - and some didn't plan to get it.

New York City is requiring restaurant workers to provide proof of at least one COVID-19 shot. The mandate is already in place, but the city doesn't plan to start enforcing it until September 13.

Advertisement

Depole said some workers would leave their jobs at Mooyah, which has restaurants in 24 states, rather than get a shot.

"I am getting a lot of pushback from my workers," Depole said.

"The majority are willing to comply, but there is a significant number, maybe 20 to 25%, who are willing to leave this industry if they're forced to comply when the compliance is not required in other industries," he said.

Advertisement

The mandate covers workers in gyms, restaurants, and entertainment venues but not workers in the retail industry.

Depole said some of his current employees moved to Mooyah after their previous restaurants voluntarily introduced vaccine mandates.

"Now those same people are threatening to leave my establishment if they're forced to get the vaccine," he said.

Advertisement

Depole said about six of Mooyah's 30 staff members planned to leave the restaurant industry over the mandate. Many would move to retail jobs, he said.

Natalie Anderson Liu, the vice president of brand at Mooyah, told Insider that the chain hoped the vaccine mandate wouldn't expand beyond New York City but that it would do whatever local government officials thought was necessary to keep coronavirus cases under control.

"We just want to keep our people safe, team members and guests," Anderson Liu said.

Advertisement

Some companies have praised New York City's mandate. Businesses elsewhere in the US have even voluntarily introduced their own vaccine policies.

"I know that I need to do what's best for my staff over my customers," Kathryn Kulczyk, the general manager of The Alembic in San Francisco, told Insider. "I think this is the best thing that we could do right now."

Benny Buller, whose company Velo3D introduced a vaccine mandate for all 150 staff members, said in an opinion piece for Insider that "the overwhelming majority of responses have been extremely positive and people are grateful."

Advertisement

Read more: A top consulting firm just announced one of the strictest vaccine mandates yet: Get vaccinated or don't get paid

The leisure-and-hospitality industry was already in the midst of a huge labor shortage, with workers leaving in droves to find employment in other industries offering higher pay, better benefits, and more flexibility.

"Now this adds an additional layer," Liu said.

Advertisement

Depole said that the vaccine mandate was "very polarizing" in comparison with past mask mandates.

"It's rather uncomfortable for staff to have to wear masks, especially in the kitchen when it gets very warm, but nobody complained about that," he said.

Liu said that Mooyah introduced a COVID-19 checklist for all its restaurants at the start of the pandemic and screened staff members for the coronavirus, including with temperature checks. Depole said none of his workers had contracted the virus.

Advertisement

Do you work in the restaurant industry? Got a story? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com. Use a nonwork email.

{{}}