Labor shortage is wreaking havoc in the restaurant industry

OHIO – More than 3,000 restaurants in Ohio have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Ohio Restaurant Association.


What would you like to know

  • According to the Ohio Restaurant Association, nearly 90% of restaurants in the state report they are still understaffed.
  • The labor shortage not only affects local restaurants, but also national chains like Raising Cane’s
  • 95% of restaurateurs said they had been affected by supply delays or shortages in recent months

Some restaurateurs are now offering significantly higher salaries to combat the problem, but more than 90% of restaurants in the state report they are still understaffed, according to the ORA.

“Staffing is a huge issue,” said Kristina Matic, who took over The Players Club and Lost Nation Sports Park in Willoughby in early July. “So we went from a bartender to this bartender doing maybe other things, maybe doing a kitchen shift or maybe doing a cleaning shift.

The industry-wide labor shortage has forced Matic employees to wear multiple hats, including herself, she said. “Go from ordering to liquor orders, to food orders, to cooking, to bar service – everything from A to Z.”

It’s a balance between keeping the restaurant afloat and keeping the employees happy.

“We try to do our best for the customers and for our employees, so we try to step in as much as possible, as much as we can to alleviate some of that burden, to alleviate some of that pressure. Said Matic.

The labor shortage isn’t just affecting local restaurants.

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers made the decision to send 500 company employees to restaurants. While co-CEO AJ Kumaran said it has boosted morale, the move is not enough to actually alleviate this labor shortage.

“To be frank, 40,000 crew members is what we have. Sending 500 support team members, corporate people is not going to help. It’s not a solution. But it is. is a beautiful gesture. Bringing everyone together, holding hands, moving towards the same camaraderie-building goals that represent who we are. And it really speaks to our culture. And that’s exactly what is being done. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed with comments from both people watching their business, the corporate support group members, being there with them. It’s been fun for them, and they enjoy it. They’re enjoying it. appreciate it. And to the members of the head office team, it’s like a dose of reality. You know, that’s where It’s what we need to do to be successful today and support our growth Kumaran said.

Kumaran said restaurants operate with very thin margins, so the longer the labor shortage continues, the more wages will rise and the more customers will see this reflected in the price of the product.

According to the latest ORA business impact survey:

  • Nearly half of Ohio restaurant owners said their October 2021 sales were lower than October 2019
  • 95% of them said they had been impacted by supply delays or shortages in recent months
  • Almost 60% of restaurateurs said business conditions are worse now than a few months ago
  • Most restaurateurs think they’re going to lose money this year
  • 86% of owners said they had difficulty finding staff
  • Many of them are forced to change opening hours and services
  • Delta variant slowed down indoor dining at 78% of state restaurants


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Cecil N. Messick