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Ever since Jessye Grundlingh immigrated to Canada from South Africa a decade ago, restaurant work has been a major part of her professional career.

Her work as a server gave her a dependable income while she worked to grow her own DIY crafts business, and it helped pay for her tuition fees at the Ontario College of Art & Design University.

But when she lost her job at a Toronto restaurant where she’d worked for 10 years, Grundlingh decided it was time to leave work in hospitality for good and pivoted to scaling up her crafts business.

“When the pandemic hit… it just put pressure on me to seriously scale my business in a different way,” said Grundlingh, who also ended up moving out of the city for the much smaller town of Colborne, Ont.

“I had to make up for the lost income.”

With restaurants operating at reduced capacity for more than a year now, Grundlingh said she isn’t the only one looking to other avenues for work, and it could lead to a gap in the workforce when restaurants eventually do reopen.

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