As one data point in the economic havoc wrought by the COVID-19 emergency, five Tom’s Famous Family Restaurant locations in the Antelope Valley were among those across Southern California that saw employees laid off during the early days of the Safer at Home orders which closed restaurants to dine-in service.
The initial closures of restaurant dining rooms were ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 16. This allowed for delivery, take-out and drive-thru services.
On March 19, the governor issued a stay at home order, closing all but essential businesses and services and further limiting the public’s movement.
Effective March 31, Tom’s laid off 320 employees from 23 restaurants across Southern California, including two each in Palmdale and Lancaster and one in Rosamond, according to a notice to local government agencies.
All five Antelope Valley Tom’s locations are open for drive-through and curbside delivery only.
The number of employees affected triggered a requirement to inform local government of the layoffs under the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act), which requires employers to provide workers and local government officials with at least 60 days notice before a mass layoff, a plant closure or a major relocation.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which was sudden, unforeseen, and unexpected, and immediate closures of businesses throughout the state of California, including that of any sort of in-dining restaurant operations, the company’s business operations and financial status were significantly impacted,” the notice sent to Palmdale officials by attorney Thomas Kroesche read.
The notice was an amended notice dated May 13. The onset of the closures was too swift for the company to provide the 60-day notice, which was waived in California, according to the letter.
The company may be able to bring back some employees, but that will not be known until the restrictions have been lifted and business returns to normal, according to the letter.
“Therefore, as of right now, the layoffs are permanent,” the letter states.
It also states that no further layoffs are expected.