Restaurants struggle with staffing amid busy weekend

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Multiple events this weekend are bringing thousands of people to the area and businesses and restaurants are gearing up for the crowds.

“There’s going to be more people out this weekend than there’s been in a while,” Nancy Dennis with the Alabama Retail Association said. “Businesses are excited to see everybody again. They are excited to be open.”

Dennis said many small and local restaurants across the state are still struggling with staffing.

“Restaurants are hurting because they are having a hard time finding people to staff their restaurants fully,” Dennis said.

She said many food service workers who got laid off early in the pandemic found jobs in new fields or are on unemployment.

“The unemployment that is being paid by the federal government goes through September,” Dennis said. “That is causing some issues because people maybe make more on unemployment then they do working part time at a restaurant.”

She said while restaurant owners are happy to be back open, the staffing impact may be felt this weekend.

“They may not have enough staff to be open for lunch,” she said. “They may just have enough staff to be open for dinner.”

Dennis said local retail stores aren’t struggling as much. She said throughout the pandemic, retail workers have been in the top 5 of unemployment claims, but not anymore.

“They have dropped out in the past week; they have dropped out of that top 5 so that means they are getting back up to full employment,” she said.

Dennis said there isn’t much restaurants owners can do for staffing struggles, but continue to stretch business. She said it’s just another reason to show your support.

“Especially during this time, it is really important if you want those businesses to still be here a year from now,” Dennis said.

Dennis said without a statewide mask mandate and no capacity limits, it’s important to pay attention to each shop or restaurant’s masks and social distancing rules.

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