As vaccination rates climb and dining room capacity expands, people are returning to restaurants in droves, excited to dine out and meet with friends. But this sudden ramp up in business after several months of slumping sales is creating a staffing challenge for operators.
"Restaurants are thriving. They're making more money than they've made before, but struggling to have [staff], which is just a very strange problem," Dan Sines, CEO of tech company Traitify, said.
Some operators say the federal government's extra unemployment benefits and stimulus payments are largely what's keeping employees from returning, while others say staff have just found jobs in other, more stable industries. Many employees are still concerned about their safety, as well, and are hesitant to return to restaurants.
Restaurant Dive took closer look at the tight labor market to find out how restaurants are changing their recruitment tactics and what they are doing to keep their current employees. The first article in our three-part series analyzes the impact of the labor shortage on independent restaurants. The second looks at how chain restaurants are using mass hiring events to fill thousands of positions, while the third, which will be published next week, explores how restaurants are improving culture as a retention tactic.