Short staffed restaurants prepare for potential summer rush

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 7:49 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - COVID-19 guidelines are lifting in the Mid-South, and in Mississippi, restaurants have been able to seat a full capacity with no masks, if they choose.

This summer will be different in the best way for businesses, but some restaurants are worried they won’t be able to handle the load.

The Windy City Grille in Como says they have the smallest staff they’ve ever had in their near 20 years of business.

“We absolutely need cooks, first and foremost,” said owner Anne May.

May says staffing has been hard due to potential employees choosing to stay on unemployment benefits, rather than come into work.

She is even offering $15-$20 an hour for cooks but has only been able to hire one person for her Hernando location so far since the business started to pick back up.

“We make everything fresh to order, so with the size of our kitchen and the amount of customers that we serve on a daily basis, it’s just even more of a struggle,” May said.

Windy City Grille is not alone in this struggle.

Even big names like the Peabody Hotel are looking to fill dozens of positions needed to meet day-to-day demand.

“We’re looking for housekeepers, servers, server’s assistants, culinary people, basically all the aspects of the hotel,” said President of Peabody Hotels & Resorts, Douglas Brown.

An NPR report also cites former restaurant workers taking jobs outside the industry, visa issues, school, and day care closures as reasons for the struggle to staff.

Back in Como, customers began to get impatient with how long orders were taking.

May said she would have customers come back to her in tears because of rude, frustrated guests, so she decided to let customers know their staffing situation with a sign taped to the front door.

“We ask that everyone tries to treat us with respect while we’re just trying to do our jobs to get the food out,” May said.

She says since then, customers have taken well to the message.

“You just kind of have to patient when you come here,” said Martha Garrison, a regular customer. “We just enjoy getting together and seeing each other.”

“We just keep chugging along and doing the best that we can, explaining to our customers in advance that there may be an issue with the time frame,” May said. “I think that everyone just needs to learn to slow it down and enjoy the day and the experience and not be in a rush.”

Though worried, May is still excited for the summer rush that’s expected and hopes the right employees come along to help get her restaurant through that time.

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