Marathon day is usually one of the best night’s of the year for Emily Bergin, a waitress at Solas restaurant in the Lenox Hotel. The Irish pub and restaurant brims with people in the mood to eat, drink, and tip.
But not this year.
The Boylston Street pub, which reopened Tuesday night, was shuttered for more than than week after the Marathon bombings, costing the 29-year-old waitress hundreds of dollars in expected earnings.
“It puts a lot of us in a bad spot,” she said of the restaurant’s bartenders and waitresses who went without pay since last Monday. “There’s so many people worse off than me, but I still have bills to pay.”
As the businesses in the blast zone began to clean up and reopen Tuesday, thousands of Back Bay employees faced the same problem as Bergin — trying to figure out ways to cope with a sudden loss of income. Waitresses, gym workers, and countless others lost their source of income as commerce came to a screeching halt — and most are unlikely to recover their lost earnings.
These workers do not qualify for help through One Fund Boston, a city-managed clearinghouse for donations created to aid the Marathon bombing victims and their families. Many workers will qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, state officials said, but those benefits are typically a small portion of incomes.
The workers are secondary victims, struggling quietly to make ends meet. For Carrick Pell, an employee at the Boston Sports Club on Boylston Street, the shutdown came at a very bad time. At age 43, he recently launched a new career as a personal trainer, working at the gym as he builds his clientele.
When the gym closed last week, he lost about 50 hours of income. He also lost pay from a side job when Babson College in Wellesley went into lock-down Friday. Pell works there as an assistant men’s rugby coach.
He was already living “paycheck to paycheck,” he said, but is trying to view the loss as motivation to find new clients faster. And like many of the workers who have been set back financially, he said his thoughts are with the injured and grieving.
“I’m going to suck it up,” he said. “My financial loss and frustration is minimal compared to he people who lost limbs — who lost lives.”
Much of the Back Bay was a crime scene in the wake of the bombings and a six-block stretch of Boylston Street was still barricaded and closed to the public Tuesday. City health and code inspectors escorted business owners and key personnel into their shops and businesses at intervals throughout the day, but many stores remained closed for another day.
Laura Trust, president of the Finagle a Bagel , said workers fled the Boylston Street store in such haste last Monday they did not turn the ovens off. Although emergency workers eventually shut down the ovens, the store has remained closed.
The financial losses have been substantial, she said. The shop, one of the busiest in the Newton-based chain, employs 22 workers, many with families and children. Trust said she will pay all the workers for their lost hours and called the gesture insignificant in light of the tragedy and heroics of emergency workers.
“Every little thing you can do as an employer to minimize the tragedy is important,” she said Tuesday at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, as she prepared to reenter the shuttered shop for the first time since the Marathon.
City officials said many of the largest employers in the Back Bay, such as Trader Joe’s or the Apple store, will pay employees’ lost wages and seek reimbursement from insurance. However, smaller employers may not have that luxury. City officials said they are working with federal emergency management officials and the Small Business Association to try to help them.
Becky Caloggero, general manager at Whiskey’s Smokehouse at 885 Boylston St., said the restaurant is figuring out what it can do for employees — particularly hourly workers like line cooks and doormen who lost about a week’s worth of wages. She estimated that line cooks probably lost about $800 to $900, while the restaurant lost about $250,000 in sales.
“A good handful of employees have lost well over a thousand dollars, net, easily,” she added. “We’ll create hours if we need to just to get them through it. Maybe we don’t need three cooks on [in the coming days] but maybe we’ll put on four or five.”
Lester Naing, who has worked at the Sir Speedy print shop on Boylston Street for nearly three years, said he lost a week’s pay. He returned to work Tuesday afternoon, helping to fill orders even though the store had not officially reopened.
The 36-year-old said he called customers across Greater Boston after the bombing to explain why their orders might be delayed. He also had to convince some not to take their business elsewhere.
It has been stressful, he said. And now he and his wife will dip into their savings to cover their bills in the absence of of a paycheck.
“It’s tough, he said, “but it’s not the end of the world.”