Home » Restaurants facing staff shortages as customers come back after pandemic

Restaurants facing staff shortages as customers come back after pandemic

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Next time you go to Famous Dave’s in Lincoln, you’ll notice the sign on the door says they’re now closed on Mondays.

This is to give their staff a break. The general manager said they’re short-staffed every day.

“Any given shift we’re three to four bodies short in the kitchen,” Doug Long said. “It’s the same for the front of house too.”

So the staff is working harder, for more hours. It’s why Famous Dave’s decided to close on Mondays.

“To give our staff time to spend with family, to recuperate at home,” Long said. “To do the things they need to do so they can come back ready to work.”

Famous Dave’s isn’t the only restaurant experiencing staff shortages.

Zoe Olson, executive director for the Nebraska Restaurant Association, said this is a nationwide problem, made even more challenging by Nebraska’s low unemployment rate.

“We just don’t have enough people,” Olson said.

Olson said when the pandemic hit and restaurants closed, employees went to other industries who were in need at that time, like long-term care facilities and grocery stores.

“Business is coming back, but faster than staff are returning,” Olson said.

The numbers back this up. In the first four weeks of the pandemic, waiters and waitresses filed more unemployment claims than employees of any other occupation, an average of 2,100 new claims each week.

Now, waiters and waitresses file an average of 30 new claims each week.

“Everywhere you go, everybody is hiring,” Olson said.

Some jobs are listed at the Nebraska Restaurant Association’s website, or Olson suggests just asking a restaurant you enjoy for openings; odds are they’re hiring.

Other than staff, what restaurants need is your patience.

“We are doing our best,” Long said. “We’ve had to limit to-go orders; we’re doing things like closing on Mondays and our hours are reduced.”

This means it may take a little longer to get a table or your dinner.

“Just be kind and be patient,” Olson said.

Copyright 2021 KOLN. All rights reserved.