Pegula Sports & Entertainment lays off hospitality workers

Posted at 12:32 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 23:23:14-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Pegula Sports and Entertainment announced Friday the company has laid off several employees as a direct result of COVID-19. Staff members from 716 Food and Sport, The Draft Room and The Healthy Scratch have been laid off.

“Due to the Coronovirus pandemic, and the various government mandates necessary to slow the speed of this terrible virus, we are temporarily closing the majority of our hospitality operations to help protect our staff and communities,” PSE said in a statement. “As a result, like many businesses in Western New York, we made the difficult decision to lay off many of our valued team members. We hope everyone is safe and healthy during this time.”

All of the workers that WKBW spoke with were part-time employees. They chose to remain anonymous due to concerns over having to re-apply to their jobs with PSE and not having them guaranteed whenever there's a return to normalcy.

"We encourage you to come back and and apply for an open position," PSE vice president of hospitality Dominc Verni said to those that were being laid off in an e-mail acquired by WKBW. "You will be amongst the first considered to re-join our teams."

"Everybody was just panicking. Some people have children, so everybody's just been a complete disaster with all of this," one former worker said. "It's been the whole restaurant industry from my perspective, but management is a whole different story."

Another anonymous source said that their full-time coworkers did not have any of their PTO paid out, and they will also no longer receive health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have one full-time server and she called me crying other day," another former worker said. "They all lost their insurance benefits, and everyone's like 'Oh, they'll get it back when they re-apply.'"

A former server noticed a drop-off in business at their location before restaurants had to reduce their staffs or go to takeout only. They said it was due to the postponement of the sports industry and some downtown offices working remotely before it was mandated by New York State.