Labor shortage easing in some restaurants | News
In July, Colby’s Fine Food & Spirits at Third and St. Ann Streets and Colby’s Deli & Café at 401 Frederica St., like most restaurants nationwide, were struggling to find workers.
The restaurant even had to close for two days due to lack of staff.
At the time, Collin MacQuarrie, spokesman for the family that owns the two restaurants, posted on Facebook: “We ask prayer not just for the two businesses, but for the service industry in general. It has been and continues to be one of the toughest trading seasons we have ever had. »
Now, six months later, MacQuarrie says, “It’s actually getting a little better. The restaurant is starting to have good candidates and we have hired someone at the cafe for the first time in a year and a half.
He understands some of the reasons for the labor shortage.
Many working mothers were afraid to put their children in daycare with rising coronavirus cases, and children were going to school on their home computers for much of 2020.
“You don’t want to go away and leave your kids home alone,” MacQuarie said. “You need stability.”
“It’s calmed down a bit,” Mike Courtney, owner of both Ritzy’s restaurants and Briarpatch steakhouse, said this week.
“In the past 10 days I have received more applications than in the past six months,” he said. “It was tough. The first week of the month, at Kentucky 54 Ritzy’s, we had to close the dining room and drive-thru only. It’s a struggle.
It’s not just a shortage of workers that’s causing the problem, Courtney said. “I’ve seen more people test positive for strep, serious sinus infections and omicron in the past few weeks than ever before. I wake up wondering when the phone calls will start with people saying they can’t enter.
However, not all restaurants are in trouble.
At Wonder Whip, owner Seth Woodward says, “We have a great team of employees who have supported us through thick and thin. In addition, our staff is higher than it has ever been, so we have had no problem having to reduce opening hours or limit service.
And Greg Floyd, owner of Ole South Barbeque, said: “I think I’m one of the few who’s still doing well. I have 40 to 42 employees at any given time. I don’t understand why I’m in better shape than so many places. I try to treat my employees well, but I imagine everyone else does too.
Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said the worker shortage started “long before COVID.”
“The last two years have accelerated this beyond what we could have imagined,” she said. “Across the board, employers in the trades, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, technical, professional, public service – all sectors are being hit by shortages.”
Brake said: “The explanation for this is complicated. As schools transitioned to virtual education and children were home full time, families had to rethink everything. A lot of people have decided they can get by on just one income so they can stay at home. Others found childcare costs too prohibitive for what they were earning and decided to leave the workforce.
And, she said, “people in the 55 to 65-plus generation have reassessed their need for income, which has led to the departure of dozens of older workers. This created a ripple effect on mobility where others could access these higher income jobs. This had a significant impact on entry level employment numbers. And as companies compete in a tight labor market at full employment, they see the need to increase their offerings, including higher wages, better benefits and flexible work hours.
Wages are risingNational chains raised wages to attract workers.
KFC offers jobs starting at $11 per hour.
McDonald’s said its company-owned stores will raise wages to $13 an hour this summer and increase to $15 an hour at all company-owned stores by 2024.
Darden Restaurants Inc., owner of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, among other brands, said it plans to raise its minimum wage to $12 an hour — including tips — this month.
Hobby Lobby began offering a full-time starting salary of $18.50 an hour to its employees on January 1. And the company said it will continue to offer medical, prescription and dental insurance, a 401(k), flexible spending plan, temporary disability benefits, life insurance, vacation pay, vacation paid personal with annual buyout, vacation pay, chaplaincy services and an employee discount.
Chipotle Mexican Grill pays its employees an average of $15 per hour. Starting salaries for hourly crew members range from $11 to $18.
Last year, Target raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Walmart raised its minimum wage to $12 an hour last fall.
And these wage increases are impacting local businesses across the country.
“Companies are pressuring local businesses with their pay,” MacQuarrie said. “There’s no way we’re paying $11 an hour to someone with no experience to start with. But companies can’t compete with the working environment. It’s usually better with local restaurants.
Courtney said: “I gave my employees at Ritzy’s and Briarpatch raises of $2-3 an hour last summer. Look at Hobby Lobby. We can’t do that. We would have to increase the prices of our menus to reach this level. Food prices are rising, and that affects us too.
He said, “I’m starting an inexperienced 16-year-old at Ritzy at $9 to $10 an hour. In 30 days there is an increase and one every three to six months thereafter. At Briarpatch, I start at $11 to $12. It’s for serving the tables and doing the dishes.
Brake said: “Small businesses are hit hardest by wage growth. Local food and beverage and retail businesses are especially hard pressed to compete with the salary of national franchises. So it’s more important than ever to patronize our local small businesses and understand that if their prices go up, it’s beyond their control. »
She said: “Our conclusion is that our community needs to focus on this issue. How do you create innovative pipelines for retirees or students to fill critical shortages in hospitality and retail? How do we provide pathways for local graduates to connect with employers? How to connect refugees moving here to employers who need their skills. How to provide treatment and a second chance to people struggling with addiction and unemployment? We know that if Greater Owensboro decides on something, we will find a way.