Indianapolis News and HeadlinesIndiana Coronavirus News


Hotel workers one year later: 'It's still a struggle.'

March Madness brings hotel workers back, but not all of them
Posted at 12:46 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 00:46:31-04

INDIANAPOLIS — "It's been a ride, wow. Once again, I keep saying wow," Celesta Nichols said.

One year ago we introduced you to Lisa Wehrle, her sister Celesta Nichols, and their longtime friend Betty Yosha. The three employees of a popular downtown hotel were furloughed and sent home when college sports were abruptly canceled and stay-at-home orders marked the beginning of the pandemic. Now nearly a year to the day later we caught up with Wehrle and Nichols who say not everything is back to normal.

"Not so much. We're trying. It's a struggle. It really is," Wehrle said.

Despite the arrival of the Big Ten Tournament and March Madness only Wehrle has been called back to her hotel job.

"I got a recall. I was so excited. I basically ran down there to sign the reinstatement papers. Grab my keys and get busy cleaning," Wehrle said.

For now, she's preparing meals for the college sports teams while they stay in their hotel bubble. In a normal year, Wehrle would be working her job as server and bartender and Nichols would be serving as the lounge hostess, but a staffing shortage, rather than COVID restrictions, has kept the doors closed at the hotel's bar and lounge. Just saying that these 2 sisters love and miss their jobs is an understatement.

"Oh, dear god yes. Oh Yes. I love the people I work with, a great crew," Wehrle said.

"There's a purpose that you have every day when you know that you're going see the faces that you're familiar with and you know what they want before they even say that they want it," Nichols said.

While Wehrle is thankful for the progress that has allowed the hospitality industry to see some life, Nichols is looking forward to the day when the pandemic is only a memory.

"Getting these COVID-19 shots is helping us progress and thank god for that. So, hopefully by maybe this September, that's what my goal is, is hopefully by then we'll get back to a normal where people can come in and feel safe," Nichols said.