MISSION, KS (KCTV) — The restaurant industry is finally roaring back as more and more people feel comfortable dining in public.
The businesses still hanging on after surviving the pandemic are now facing a new crisis though: staffing.
Business is good at RJ’s BBQ Shack in Mission, but hiring employees is hard.
“I’m kind of fortunate this last week, I actually hired four employees. But we are still needing probably eight to 10 different employees for the summer and coming up for the patio reopening,” owner Bob Palmgren said.
Palmgren owns the restaurant and fills in for every position there is.
“It’s hard to get people in here. I mean we go through six or seven different agencies trying to get people in here,” he said.
There several reasons for the staffing shortage.
One is the fact that many people get a similar income while unemployment.
“They can make more money sitting at home not doing anything then they can actually making it working,” Palmgren said.
Another reason is the that the pool for qualified workers seems small compared to the number of open jobs.
Indeed.com lists more than 3,000 restaurants positions in the Kansas City area from servers, to cooks, to bartenders, dishwashers and managers.
“Plus, a lot of people have changed over and go to Amazon or other jobs that are open,” Palmgren said.
With how unstable the restaurant industry became during the pandemic, Palmgren believes many people found jobs in other industries.
Another reason is the fact many people simply aren’t comfortable working in a job that requires being around so many people.
Carry-out is still the big at the restaurant, but dine-in is picking up too.
Soon, the back patio will open for live music. RJ’s also does catering for big events and weddings, which are also picking up post-pandemic.
“I’m nervous about the weddings and things and finding people,” Palmgren said.
He’s offering his employees $50 for referring a new worker who stays on the job at least 30 days.
One of many ways restaurants owners are having to get creative with recruiting.