MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With vaccinations increasingly available, millions of Americans are going out to eat again. Restaurants nationwide are having trouble accommodating all their new customers because of an employee shortage.
“It is bad enough that businesses are limiting their capacity, their operating hours, closed on days they are normally open. Not enough staff to meet the needs of our guests,” said South Florida Regional Director at Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Lynn Hernandez.
Business is back at The Loft Restaurant in Poulsbo, Washington. Owners Sandy Kolbeins and Michael Buholz are serving up meals to a growing number of diners. But there’s a key ingredient missing: workers.
“This is the hardest it has ever been in my 30 years in this industry, to find anyone to come and cook,” said Buholz.
Establishments nationwide are facing staffing shortages at all positions. The Mill in upstate New York is offering gift cards to customers who help find new employees.
“Our biggest fear is that we have this beautiful location and we’re not gonna have the manpower to have every part of it open,” said Mike Calligan, the general manager at The Mill.
When restaurants shut down last spring, many workers found jobs in different industries. For others, it pays more to stay home and collect government benefits.
According to Todd Shimkus, from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, “Are there some folks who are earning more money on unemployment with the federal bonus right now absolutely, but there’s also people that can’t afford to work and need to be on unemployment because their kids aren’t still back in school.”
The shortages are forcing restaurants across the country to readjust their business model.
The owner of Nicoletta’s in Florida can’t find enough help, so he closes on Mondays.
“I have to be able to not run them into the ground, run myself into the ground, so we need to take a day off, let everybody relax a little bit,” said Tom Timmons.
The Loft is staying open seven days a week but adjusting hours.
“On weekends, we’d be open until eleven o’clock. Today, we’re closing at eight thirty on Friday and Saturday nights because we don’t have the staffing to make that happen,” said Kolbeins.
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The hope is workers will eventually return so business can return to normal.