Despite fears of a recession, the war to retain employees still rages on across the U.S.
One industry that is especially struggling to stay staffed is the restaurant business.
“My chef has had to work double time,” said Tony Loiacono, owner of Parkhouse Eatery in University Heights. “A lot of my front of the house staff has had to work in the kitchen too, which pulls them away from the front of the house, and then my front of the house has had to cover those shifts.”
Loiacono says he simply can’t find anyone who wants to work in the kitchen, and he’s not alone.
“I have a couple of friends in the business and a buddy of mine, Christian, he’s having staffing issues,” said Loiacono. “Another friend of mine, Ben, we’ve been calling each other to see if we have any extra guys willing to work extra shifts because it’s just hard to come by.”
According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry is still down roughly 6% of its workforce from pre-pandemic levels.
Staffing challenges add pressure to an industry already struggling with inflation.
“Everything is expensive, you name it,” said Loiacono. “It’s becoming more and more difficult to run a business and make a profit.”
For now, Loiacono says his focus is retention.
“The staff that I do have, they’ve been fantastic,” said Loiacono. “I have a lot of servers who have been here for 10 years, and a lot of cooks who have been for 15 years, so I am a very fortunate operator and that’s why I’m giving them a break because I don’t want to lose them.”
Loiacono has decided to close down his restaurant on Tuesdays to help give his employees a break. A difficult choice but one he says he needs to make
“I hope that people will just miss us on Tuesdays and come and see us on other days that we are open,” said Loiacono.