Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Help Wanted

With the pandemic regulations becoming more relaxed the restaurant business has been able to reopen its doors. The problem is that this world milestone brings an unprecedented problem to restaurants. That problem is that when they were closed or when they had to reduce the man power they had to accommodate the new regulations. They laid off most of their employees and with little to no idea of how long they were going to be unemployed most, if not all of the laid off employees had to find a different way to pay their bills.

Whether it be by finding a different job, early retirement or the very lucrative alternative of unemployment well that all depended on them but they all had to do it. Nobody knew how long we were going to be on mandatory curfew nobody knew how long we were going to depend on essential workers. The only thing all the suddenly laid off restaurant workers knew was that they had no job, and they needed to fix that as soon as possible.

Time passed and everybody adjusted to the regulations as best as they could.  Now with regulations being changed and restaurants being able to reopen their doors to the public they began to face a new problem. Understaffed restaurants began to post Help Wanted signs but unlike before when they would post jobs and people would line up to try and get a job nobody came. No line was formed no calls were answered giving information on the job.

Nobody came nobody answered the call for help. Now restaurants have to limit their menu to adjust to the workforce they have.  As the community gets more freedom to go back to normal and are allowed to eat inside restaurants again they will expect full service. That puts restaurants in a very difficult situation they need to hire as soon as possible. They need to get back to the work force they had before the pandemic hit and they need to do it fast.

Help Wanted

That puts pressure on them to risk mass hiring and not getting quality employees. The food industry as always been dependent on those that work in it to be polite, attentive and thick skinned but those same people were laid off and had to find different jobs. Now in order to get them back restaurants will have to raise wages to compete with unemployment checks, they will need to try and win back those employees from their new jobs and that’s not going to be an easy task.

Restaurant doors are reopening for inside dining, chairs and tables are going back to normal distances with social distancing now a distant memory the customer flow is slowly and steadily going back to normal.

With meat prices already higher than before the pandemic the menu prices have already showed a price increase especially on beef items, so how much more will restaurants need to raise menu prices to be able to get the workforce needed to run them? That’s just part of the problem the real problem or should I say the real challenge that they face is the workforce just isn’t there anymore. The workforce they had over a year ago has been dismantled and steered towards all kinds of different jobs.

So with a lack of employees a menu pricing increase and another one on its way to help accommodate the employees they do manage to get. How many restaurants will be able to make it to the light at the end of the tunnel? How many mom and pop shops will make it past the pandemic side effects? How many people will answer the call when they see the help wanted signs? I guess we will all have to wait and see. So next time you see a Help Wanted sign ask yourself is it a help wanted or is it really a help NEEDED?

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Gilberto Preciado Meza
I worked for restaurants for about 14 years started as a dishwasher in one and moved all the way up to manager. Then I went back to the kitchen as a Prep and a cook.

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