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News + PoliticsOpinionThe Hyatt Regency restaurant is spinning again. Where are the workers?

The Hyatt Regency restaurant is spinning again. Where are the workers?

There is nobody to take over when this generation retires. Maybe Hyatt wants it that way.

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Seventeen years. It’s been nearly 17 years since the room atop the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero last known as Equinox spun around.

Ask any person born in this millennium, and they will have no idea what you’re talking about. But if you talk to their parents and grandparents that’s a whole different story.

One Bay Area resident said this: 

“Oh man you just don’t understand. That was the place. Nobody could get in. You had to know somebody. And if you were lucky enough to get in; it was over $100 a person. I took all my dates there. You had to.”

It’s an exciting moment—except for the next generation of workers. Wikimedia Commons image.

Yes, it’s true. The room atop the Hyatt Regency is once again spinning and much as before, it’s just as hard to get into.

For the last decade, the Equinox has been used for private events and Hyatt Regency club members. In a nutshell, guests pay a monthly fee and have access to the Regency Club at all Hyatt hotels. These rooms or experiences vary from Hyatt to Hyatt but it’s a nice feature for the frequent traveler.

And now May 1, or May Day as it’s known to workers internationally, is the projected reopening of the city landmark, according to Bay Area ABC 7 News reports.

While businesses like Macy’s are closing and Walgreens across the city are shuttering their doors, Hyatt hotels is moving in the other direction.

The hotel is across the street from the world-famous Ferry Building. It’s at the beginning and end of the historical trolley line. It’s next to the cable cars and atop the BART station. The hotel has so much going for it, and restoring this amazing feature should be another feather in the cap.

Hyatt has the opportunity to be the spark that could help revitalize tourism in the area, to restore something that was so important to so many in the city. But will it?

In the same ABC 7 article is an interview with Engineer Dennis Alcaire. Dennis tells of his more than 47 years at the hotel. Dennis is not the exception at Hyatt but the standard. Many of the Regency’s employees are near or past retirement age in all departments across the hotel. Some workers even started in their teenage years and will be spending their 51st work anniversary with the hotel this year.

In the past Hyatt has had a near-zero turnover rate—that is to say, workers were so happy or satisfied they almost never quit or retired. For almost five decades, the Hyatt has been a good place to work, even being voted second best place to work in the Bay Area in 2018.

But the truth is there’s an almost three-decade age gap between the soon-to-be-retired Hyatt workers and the next generation. Then there’s no one. There’s no third string, no third generation of hotel workers to step up. Once the original Hyatt team from 1973 retires, and the next generation of 40-somethings steps in, there’s nobody after that.

There’s no new young bartender with a catalog of new inspired drinks. There’s no kid fresh out of culinary school getting his feet wet, or a life-long resident who knows the city like the back of his hand to hold the door, hail cabs, and greet visitors. Hyatt has, at least publicly, made no moves towards revitalizing their staff.

Some hotels in the city have matched or exceeded pre pandemic occupancy or business. Despite this, hotels like the Hyatt are severely understaffed.

Ultimately, whatever happens next is up to Hyatt. Will they bring back workers and hire fresh new faces? Or will they keep the status quo? Consumers have made it clear that they are tired of paying more for less. To asks hotel guests to pay more for service that no longer exists seems an insult to so many. But it’s not all on Hyatt. It’s across the industry.

This happened about a decade ago, when hotels stated that consumers no longer wanted room service. There were no studies or hard facts about this, and in fact many hotels outside San Francisco still have room service.

And now, no matter what happens next the rest of the hotel industry will be watching Hyatt champing at the bit for the chance to get rid of more workers.

Bradley Hasty is a Local 2 worker at the Hyatt Regency.

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