BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Restaurant owners are seeing customers return in waves now that more people are vaccinated and feel more comfortable about going out, but many are having trouble meeting the demands of crowds.
The owner of Tostadas in Homewood says staff have a lot more mouths to feed these days
“In the last 6 weeks, our business has picked up and we’re seeing volume we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Hal Craig, Owner.
But, even after a busy weekend rush – the restaurant was forced to close Monday.
“With our limited staff – one person had to go to the hospital, one person couldn’t be here – so we’re like okay we’re going to close and rest,” said Craig.
Craig says his restaurant has done better than some of his buddies in the business, but like many others he’s short staffed. A hiring sign is posted on the door for cooks and an extra server. Craig says he’s often in the kitchen cooking, waiting on guests, and washing dishes to make up for the lack of help.
Other restaurants are reporting temporarily closing because of things like staffing issues. Tropicaleo in Birmingham posted on its Facebook page it would shut down starting Monday and would let customers know when it will reopen.
The restaurant chain The Shrimp Basket, with locations across Alabama, is offering a new car to try to recruit extra help.
Craig says the uncertainty created by the pandemic has flipped the restaurant business model on its head and owners are working to keep up. He’s says many people have turned to more higher paying jobs or jobs where they can adjust working hours like Uber, Lyft, or Shipt.
“It’s a tough spot and restaurants are trying to pivot trying to figure out what restaurants are going to do and how it figures out,” said Craig.
The owner of Tostadas says it’s also not as simple for smaller, family owned restaurants to pay employees more or do big hiring incentives because the money margins for restaurants are thin.