I'm a former restaurant manager who quit the industry to become an Uber Eats driver. I earn the same amount of money and I get to spend more time with my kids.
- Michael Urbach spent nearly 30 years in the restaurant industry before becoming an Uber Eats driver.
- He said he can't imagine ever returning to hospitality.
This as-told-to article is based on a conversation with Michael Urbach, a 51-year-old Uber Eats driver in the Los Angeles area. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I've spent nearly three decades managing
I'm now an Uber Eats driver and roughly the same amount of money but have much more flexible hours. This means I get to spend more time with my kids. And my overall quality of life is much better, too.
I started out as a server straight out of high school, and began managing restaurants aged 23. Since then, I've been a general manager at a range of full-service and quick-service restaurants, including some well-known chains.
But when the pandemic hit in March 2020, the restaurant I managed closed down and the industry was in turmoil as restaurants laid off workers or reduced their hours. No one was
So I started working as an Uber Eats driver in September 2020 following a recommendation from a friend.
It was amazing to see how quickly I was able to make money, though my income can change drastically week-to-week.
I earned around $3,600 in February 2020 when I worked in the restaurant industry. As an Uber Eats driver I earned on average around $1,250 a week in April 2021 and $900 a week in October 2021. (Insider viewed documentation verifying Urbach's earnings.)
I have two young kids and share looking after them with their mother. I generally take care of them for a week at a time, and I'm now able to balance my schedule much more easily. When I look after my kids I take weekends off and
And my phone doesn't ring at weekends, either. I have my weekends with my kids and there is nothing that distracts me from them.
In my former
Some of the restaurants I worked at weren't open as late, and I was able to have better shift patterns, but these roles often meant taking a pay cut.
And as a general manager in the restaurant industry, you're committed to your job 24 hours a day. The only stress-free days I had were Christmas Day and Thanksgiving, when restaurants usually shut.
Restaurant staffing has always been a problem in my nearly 30 years of working in the industry. It's an industry with an incredibly high turnover rate because most people don't plan on having a career there and just see it as a stepping stone.
The understaffing has got much worse over recent months, though. The pandemic has made more hospitality staff realize that they're underpaid, working long and unsocial hours, and dealing with rude managers and customers on a daily basis.
And now people don't want to work in the industry any more.
Restaurants are closing early or for whole days, or shutting their dining rooms because they can't find enough workers, and the remaining staff are overworked.
I do believe what we are seeing happen is a change in the industry, which should have come many years ago. We are going to see many restaurants changing the way they do business or just going out of business altogether.
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