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How Hospitality Workers Can Replace Lost Wages

March 19, 2020
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The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has injected more uncertainty into our daily lives than anything in recent memory. There is one sad certainty we can point to, though: hospitality workers are, as of this moment, feeling the brunt of the economic impact.

According to OpenTable as of 3/16/2020, restaurant reservations in the U.S. are down almost 50% year-over-year and over 60% of adults say they’re dining out less. But those numbers, in a vacuum, don’t do justice to the fact that dining rooms across the country are literally closed right now. The trend lines are headed down and the hospitality industry is going to be in a worse place before it’s in a better one.

There are ways for restaurants to reinvent and repurpose themselves within the industry. But for individual front-line service workers during the pandemic, the best bet may be to look outside of it.

Here are some creative ways out-of-work or furloughed bar and restaurant employees can recover some of their lost income. If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, share this article with anyone you know in need. Sharing information like this is a great way to support your staff during the crisis.

Also, please check out our list of bar and restaurant relief funds (for both businesses and individuals) to apply for assistance or make an immediate impact on those in need. There are some great options in there for customers to support restaurants and staff, too.

The Gig Economy

Not long ago, the gig economy was seen as relatively precarious. It may still be, but in light of current events, it looks better. And that’s mostly because it’s exploding right now—especially delivery opportunities that cater to social distancing. If you’re not able to get out and deliver, fret not: there are lots of other types of gigs out there. Read on.

Delivery Workers

Customers generally know that they can't get coronavirus from food. So the need for delivery, specifically package, food, and alcohol delivery, is skyrocketing and will likely continue for as long as social distancing is a part of our lives. Which is probably until a reliable coronavirus vaccine is distributed. 

There has been an almost-80% leap in food delivery year-over-year because of the pandemic, while package delivery is up about 15%. Amazon has committed to hiring 175,000 new employees and Domino’s 10,000. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry. Many of the below options allow bicycle deliveries.

In terms of pay, Amazon Flex drivers make between $18–$25 per hour, while DoorDash and food delivery drivers make around $15–$25 per hour. It’s worth noting that while traditional delivery drivers for Amazon don’t get to choose their schedule, Flex drivers do.

Companies Hiring Delivery Workers Right Now


If you wouldn’t mind walking around a supermarket for someone else, you can make some extra money as a shopper. Using an app on your phone, you’ll receive a shopping list and a delivery address. Instacart recently announced the addition of 300,000 workers to meet demand, and full-service Instacart shoppers make about $10/hour on average.

Companies Hiring Shoppers Right Now

Pet Sitters & Walkers

You can actually make money playing with dogs! But that’s just part of it. Gig-based pet services involve social interaction for a pet’s benefit, sure, but they also involve feeding, walking, and cleaning pets. The average part-time salary reported from Rover Sitters is about $1,000 per month. That shakes out to around 40 dog sittings per month, which is one and sometimes two dog sits per day.

Companies Hiring Pet Sitters & Walkers Right Now

Doing Random Stuff

You can make money doing pretty much anything as a Tasker with TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit is an app that connects people willing to pay for the completion of random tasks to people willing to do random tasks for money. Elegant, isn't it? If you have any skill whatsoever—even if that skill is lifting heavy stuff—it’s possible to get paid for it as a Tasker. Here is a list of actual tasks that Taskers have been paid for:

  • Steam-cleaning a rock band’s clothes
  • Dropping off items to an ex after a breakup
  • Distracting a five-pound Chihuahua
  • Chopping vegetables

The average Tasker reports earnings of about $110 per month.


Many of the hobbies or skill sets you have can translate to freelancing. If you can adequately write or edit, think about signing up on Upwork or Fiverr and applying for freelance transcription, copy editing, or copywriting gigs.

This is really about getting creative with what makes you unique. If you have a good voice, you can do freelance voiceover work. If you love social media, you can look into freelance social media marketing opportunities. If you’re into photography, you can apply to freelance photo editing gigs. If you sit down and spend 10 minutes writing down your talents and interests, you will find something you can offer people. And a freelancing site like Upwork helps you monetize it.

Freelancing Platforms

Fulfillment Centers & Retail

Grocery stores, retailers, and fulfillment centers are hiring aggressively during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is explosive demand for physical goods—especially, as we’ve seen, the delivery of physical goods. 

Amazon’s 100,000-person hiring spree isn’t limited to delivery and Flex drivers. It includes fulfillment center workers as well. They’ve also committed to boosting their minimum wage from $15 to $17.

Not one to be outdone, Walmart has announced a 150,000-person hiring blitz. Their stock is also making a run at an all-time high as the rest of the market plunges. And, as of this writing, CVS is looking to add 50,000 workers. Target is hiring 9,000 people, Kroger is hiring 10,000, and Jewel-Osco 3,000. National retailers and grocery chains thriving and boosting their hiring as they scramble to meet demand.

Companies Hiring Fulfillment, Grocery, and Retail Workers Right Now

Rent Your Stuff

Put your stuff to work for you. Carsharing, homestays, and peer-to-peer rentals all offer a path to some welcome passive income.


Look into companies like Getaround, Turo, and Drivezy to squeeze a few extra bucks out of your vehicle. Once you list your car on their platform, it’s available to be rented by the public. Car owners make around 60% of the rental cost, and the remaining 40% goes to the carsharing company. Getaround claims that some vehicle owners make up to $800 per month. 


With the travel industry taking a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, this is not the best option, but it’s an option nonetheless. If you have a home and you’re not occupying it at the moment, you can put it on AirBnB and earn a little money. Of course, it requires not only that you have a home, but that you’re not currently using it to shelter-in-place. On average, AirBNB hosts make about $900 per month.

Peer-to-Peer Rentals

Check out peer-to-peer rental apps like Buro. Your speakers, a chair, a camera, a space heater, whatever you have, can be put on an app and rented out. Items are fully insured and pay is deposited directly into your PayPal account.

Get Crafty

If you have any enthusiasm for arts and crafts, think about putting your creations on Etsy. If you don’t think you’re good enough to sell stuff on Etsy, think again: here’s a Tom Selleck moustache necklace that sold. That means pretty much anything will sell on Etsy. Even creations that are so laughably bad they’re good will sell. While there is a market for craftsmanship on Etsy, there’s also a market for irony and humor.

Etsy’s marketplace isn’t limited to handmade items, though. They also allow the listing of vintage items. For an item to be considered vintage by Etsy, it must be at least 20 years old. If you have old books, clothes, gadgets, or anything interesting from yesteryear, you can possibly make a quick buck selling it on Etsy.

U.S. Census Jobs

Literally hundreds of thousands of temporary jobs across the United States and Puerto Rico are available because of the 2020 U.S. Census. The positions being hired for are:

  • Hundreds of thousands of census takers are needed to interview household residents and update address lists
  • Thousands of field supervisors will need to oversee census takers
  • Thousands of recruiting assistants are needed to promote census employment opportunities
  • Thousands of clerks will have to support the census through administrative and clerical tasks in-office
  • Thousands of office operations supervisors will supervise the day-to-day running of area census offices

Utilize the Gig Economy

The current situation, as unfortunate as it is, has opened up a lot of opportunities in industries that directly serve a society focused on social distancing. A lot of those opportunities are part of the gig economy, so you can do a bunch of them all at one. 

Walk dogs with Wag! before starting your bicycle courier shift on Caviar. Hit up some thrift stores and start a vintage shop on Etsy while doing freelance copywriting work on Fiverr.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the country make their way using only the gig economy. And any of those gigs can be a side hustle for a little extra cash if you get a full-time job with Amazon, Walmart, or any of the other large national retailers hiring. It’s that 1099 lifestyle.

The BinWise links in this post can also be found in our coronavirus resource and information hub for bars and restaurants.