Restaurant staff shortages limit seating options

CLEVELAND — John Lane, owner of the Winking Lizard in Cleveland, said the kitchen may seem fully equipped during a lunch rush, but he could use a few extra pairs of hands.

What do you want to know

  • The Winking Lizard in Cleveland still faces staffing shortages during the summer months
  • The owner said shortages may limit production and the number of customers who can be seated
  • The Winking Lizard needs more kitchen staff to serve food faster and fill more tables

“Normally we would have four or five people here, but right now we have three,” Lane said in the Winking Lizard kitchen.

Lane said the staffing issue has reduced kitchen production. So right now it can only use a fraction of the available restore space.

“A lot of times, not all tables can be seated because we have to make sure we’re taking care of guests in a timely manner with all the food coming out of the kitchen,” Lane said.

Lane said that without a full kitchen, he can only use half of his restaurant, which can also limit the number of tables he can turn.

In the summer, Lane uses their outdoor patio and closes the indoor restaurant area. He said outdoor space is usually a way to increase sales in the summer.

“We’d like to use both, but again, without the help of the kitchen, we can’t do it,” Lane said. “Customers would be too upset because it would take way too long for their food to come out.”

Lane said that while many restaurants struggle to hire wait staff, they’re lucky to have a full roster. But he said it didn’t matter since the understaffed restaurant was at the back of the house.

Lane said there was an advantage to having a patio.

“After the pandemic, people are still more comfortable sitting outside than inside,” he said. “So we’re just blessed to have him.”

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