The 5 Hardest Places to Hire Restaurant Staff Right Now

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Article contributed by Devin Partida

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a plethora of challenges to small businesses and restaurants. Whether closing during quarantine shutdowns or reopening at limited capacity, owners and managers have faced unprecedented staff shortage rates.

The owners and the few remaining workers are strained at work. As the country began to reopen over the summer, the restaurant industry was expected to rebound and hire even more employees to replenish their restaurant staff. However, it seems the opposite is true. There are several factors that explain why there are nationwide labor shortages within the restaurant industry. Here are five states that are struggling to overcome the understaffing problem and some of the reasons why it can be happening.

1. Missouri

Many restaurants in St. Louis and surrounding areas of Missouri are struggling to find employment. For example, the Mission Taco restaurant chain did not return to the pre-pandemic hours due to this persistent problem. The chain usually hosts a late night happy hour during the week, but can only offer it on Fridays and Saturdays.

In addition, the Central West End Retreat Gastropub had to cut its brunch hours and limit evening hours on weekdays. Bob Bonney, CEO of the Missouri Restaurant Association, said he was aware of staffing shortages statewide, including at drive-thru restaurants, family restaurants and large national chains.

2. Florida

Restaurants across Florida are facing shortages and are in dire need of workers, according to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

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It should be noted that Florida has some of the lowest unemployment benefits, and Governor Ron DeSantis has withdrawn from the Supplemental Unemployment Assistance program offered by the federal government.

The program offered beneficiaries an additional $ 300 per week to unemployed Florida workers. Supporters of DeSantis’ move believe it could bring more employees back into the workforce.

Unemployment benefits are one of the reasons many workers are refusing to work right now – if an employee earns more while unemployed than working, it is no surprise that it would lead to a labor shortage. work.

3. New York

Sue Choi and her husband own several Korean restaurants in New York City. They are trying to hire to support their new location, Rib No. 7, but have had problems recruiting new employees.

Choi told ABC News that she barely received any phone calls for potential job interviews, and sometimes received less than one call per week. Restaurants in the Big Apple are struggling to hire staff, and some have decided to close one day a week, limit their evening hours, or encourage applicants to improve their recruiting efforts.

Many restaurateurs find that this is not only a reason for the shortage, but a collective force of pressure. The risk of exposure to the virus, the unemployment benefit situation and catering staff looking to change industries are all contributing factors.

4. Texas

Staff shortages in Houston and other parts of Texas make it difficult for restaurants to operate at 100% capacity. Stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, demand for groceries, and the use of third-party food delivery services all play a significant role in the workforce shortage in Texas restaurants.

Before the 2019 pandemic, 43% of restaurants viewed staff as the # 1 problem they faced, and the onset of the pandemic only made matters worse. Cameron James, president of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, noted that the number of restaurant workers has fallen from 300,000 to less than 250,000 due to the pandemic.

5. California

Prior to the pandemic, Sherry Villanueva, owner and managing partner of Acme Hospitality, had more than 350 employees in its restaurants, and when California reopened, only 250 had returned to work. Acme Hospitality operates eight restaurants and Villanueva finds that people have to do the work of two employees to make up for this continuing shortage.

Jot Condie, the chef of the California Restaurant Association, said many restaurants have had to close during the pandemic. The employment gap only worsens over time, turning into a real crisis.

How can restaurants remain efficient while being understaffed?

Shortages affect restaurants nationwide, but they must operate in a pinch and still serve customers efficiently. How can they do it?

Here are some tips for restaurants looking to get the most out of their staff:

  • Automate processes: Automating invoices can reduce costs and save time. Eliminating the need to process them manually can allow owners and managers to better serve customers.
  • Promote a sense of teamwork: Workers tend to feel more motivated when restaurant staff feel like a cohesive unit. This naturally improves efficiency in the field, and fostering a team spirit will prove to be beneficial.
  • Improve recruitment methods: Restaurants that establish a presence on LinkedIn and online job boards and create a simple application form will be better able to focus on efficiency and spend less time calling potential candidates.

Keep these tips in mind as they can prove useful until this labor shortage is brought under control.

Managing a restaurant during an intense labor shortage

These five states and others are facing an unprecedented rate of labor shortages due to rising unemployment benefits and employee fears of being exposed. Industry leaders must come together to tackle this pressing problem.

Devin PartidaDevin Partida is a writer specializing in restaurant and business technology. His work has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, Entrepreneur, AOL and Business2Community. She is also an editor at

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