For The Record

Service businesses announce layoffs across Georgia as doors close

By: - March 24, 2020 8:00 pm

The owners of the Emory Conference Center Hotel are among the companies reporting upcoming layoffs to the Georgia Department of Labor. John McCosh/Georgia Recorder

Workers at hotels and convention centers, bars, restaurants and day care centers are among the latest Georgians to learn they will soon be out of a job, according to the state Department of Labor’s business layoff and closure listing earlier this week.

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers to provide the state written notice in advance of closings and mass layoffs.

The latest batch weighted toward service industry jobs, which Kennesaw State University economics professor Roger Tutterow said is not a surprise as COVID-19 restrictions and fears shrink the pool of paying customers.

“I think it’s completely expected that we will see, certainly, layoffs at hospitality-oriented establishments, restaurants, hotels,” he said. “If you’re in the travel industry, you’ve been under a lot of pressure for several weeks already, and it’s likely that the social distancing coupled with government regulation coupled with government regulation will cause those businesses to be under pressure, at least in the near term.”

Up to 239 Crestline Hotel and Resort workers could lose their jobs, according to the Georgia Department of Labor listing. The Crestline properties include the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center and the Emory Conference Center Hotel.

Punch Bowl Social, a 27,000 square-foot entertainment complex adjacent to Truist Park where the Atlanta Braves play is also on the list, with an estimated impact on 173 workers. The club opened in 2018 and features gourmet food and all sorts of entertainment options from bowling and bocce ball to virtual reality games.

Businesses that provide concessions to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport also appear on the list.

They are Pot Likker Creations, Global Concessions and Global Concessions II.

The airport’s One Flew South restaurant is operated under a joint venture including Pot Likker Creations, Global Concessions and Jackmont Hospitality. The upscale restaurant was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2015.

According to its website, Global Concessions also operates other airport restaurants.

Other restaurants on the latest list include Kale me Crazy in Midtown Atlanta, which serves health food, and Cincuenta, which holds the El Tesoro Mexican restaurant in Atlanta.

Tutterow said the restaurant industry can be tough even when times are good.

“You’re talking about a sector of the economy where sometimes margins are thin, so it’s very hard for those businesses to continue to make payroll if they have no revenue coming in, and, of course, labor is a significant part of the cost of doing business in the hospitality and travel industries.”

The listing with the largest number of people at risk of losing their jobs is Piolax Corp. in Canton. Piolax manufactures plastic and metal automobile parts, according to its website.

Two day care centers are also on the list: All Kids First in Norcross with 31 people at risk of losing jobs, and The Beginning Learning Center in Fort Valley with an with 13 people affected.

Tutterow said he does not expect the bad economic news to end soon.

“I think we will see more layoffs coming,” he said. “Even when the stimulus bill gets passed, you may see some rallying in the equity markets, but that’s really about trying to mitigate economic damage. At the end of the day, it’s going to be the science. That translates to when we see the virus fade back out.”

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Ross Williams
Ross Williams

Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal.Williams' reporting took him from City Hall to homeless camps, from the offices of business executives to the living rooms of grieving parents. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting. A native of Cobb County, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.