Restaurants face staff shortage as more people feel more comfortable dining out amid the COVID-19 pandemic


Many restaurants across the country and in Oklahoma have a critical need for employees. This is driving changes in the restaurant industry, not only for business owners, but for customers as well.

Perhaps you’ve been out to eat recently and noticed a longer wait than usual or an unused section of the restaurant. Executives at the Restaurant Association of Oklahoma said it was because local businesses were struggling to recruit staff.

Jim Hopper, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, said people need to be patient.

“They have to be very patient, right now. There are actually areas of restaurants that need to be kept dark because they don’t have enough staff to serve it. They don’t have enough help in the kitchen to. prepare the food, ”Hopper said.

The reason we are seeing such a shortage is a combination of things. At the start of the pandemic, many employees were laid off and were able to find other jobs that they did not leave.

Hopper said another problem for some could be the lack of child care. If this is an issue for you or someone you know, the State Department of Social Services is offering free child care to working parents for 60 days due to the pandemic. This is available until the end of June.

The third thing that holds people back may be that unemployment benefits for some may be more than a regular paycheck. The state has just adopted a bonus of $ 1,200 which it hopes will encourage people to re-enter the workforce.

We can start to see changes in the restaurant industry, and it is already happening. Hopper said wages were increasing.

“Wages are definitely going up. There isn’t a restaurant in Oklahoma that is capable of paying minimum wage. They haven’t done it for a long time, but just because of demand for employees, salaries are up, ”Hopper said.

This means that prices may also have to increase in order for restaurants to keep up with the rising costs.

“The margins in a restaurant are very slim, and so yes, when your costs go up including your food costs, something has to give. They can’t stay in business if they lose money,” a- he declared.

In the meantime, says Hopper, when you go to a restaurant, you may need to continue to be patient and be prepared to wait a little longer. He wants people to know that businesses are doing what they can to serve their customers.

“Just be patient. They are doing their best. Now is not the time to critically say your service was terrible because they really are doing their best and they really want to show you good hospitality. Just hard now so please be patient, ”said Hopper.

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