As the state prepares to lift the final COVID business restrictions, restaurants are bracing themselves for what will hopefully be and new rush of customers to help them recover from pandemic losses.
But many are facing a challenge - they can't find people to come work for them.
At the Boss Grill’s new location in Berlin, the pandemic hasn’t meant a shortage of customers. The bottom line is as strong as ever. But times are still tough because they can’t hire enough employees.
“We do not have enough staff,” co-owner Ken Robitaille said.
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As a result, they’ve had to close on Mondays because they simply don’t have the staff to run the business seven days a week.
“Imagine a world where you’re very successful or too successful and you have to close because you can't find enough people to fill those positions,” said Robitaille.
The owners say would-be employees are making more money from unemployment than they would joining the team, despite what they say is a competitive wage.
The Connecticut Department of Labor says the state unemployment rate in March was 8.3%, more than double what it was at the same point in 2020. But despite people out of work and the industry saying there’s an abundance of open positions, the restaurant labor shortage remains a problem.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association says that struggle to find employees is being felt industry-wide across the state.
“The number one issue that every restaurant that I heard from in Connecticut is facing is the inability to hire on enough staff,” says Dan Meiser, board chair of the CRA.
You can see the CT Restaurant Association’s jobs board here: https://connecticutrestaurantctassoc.mcjobboard.net/jobs