Nightlife and hospitality workers run for a plan to get back to work

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (WPVI) -- Zach Seidman didn't expect to be back home in New Jersey so soon after he moved to Florida to become the Director of Nightlife Marketing & Strategy at Hard Rock Hollywood - The Guitar Hotel.

"The hospitality industry never stops," he said. "It's during times that people are usually celebrating, we're working."

But everything changed when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020.

The 20-year-veteran of the nightlife industry packed his bags for a one-way ticket back to New Jersey. He hasn't worked in 9 months.

"We were the first people to close. We'll be the last people to open up and get back to work," said Seidman.

But this New Year's Eve was not to go without celebration. Seidman and fellow workers from across the country organized the "Run for a Plan" movement, encouraging everyone to log one mile to raise awareness for hospitality workers across the board. That includes managers, bartenders, busboys, DJs, ticketing vendors, and more.

They created a website, "It's going to provide hospitality employees with information on what they can do and apply for when the government does actually put a plan together for us," said Seidman.

For now, their plan looks like a slow and safe reopening and expanding hours for casinos, bars, nightclubs, and the like.

"You know, safety is something that we've all gone to school for," said Kyle Richardson, who currently serves as the general manager for Shrine Nightclub in Connecticut. "We operate in a safety environment. So, now, it just has to change to whatever that might be."

While some employees have returned to work, others are battling for a seat at the table. Bartenders like Lindsay Dolente are picking up odd jobs and working abbreviated hours serving drinks at bars with early curfews.

"If you don't have us, you can't have a city grow, either, you know," the Brigantine native said. "People come here for this."

Atlantic City is one of many shore points that suffered this year due to a lack of travel and the various capacity restrictions imposed on casinos and restaurants.

"I've lived here essentially my whole entire life. So, for a city that was already trying to persevere, this is just two steps farther back," said Michael Philp.

This community of nightlife workers will continue advocating under the "Run for a Plan" moniker into the new year.

To learn more, visit their website.

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