Restaurants here say the staffing gaps are not unmanageable

TEXARKANA – Some local restaurants are struggling to find staff.

For some, it is an ongoing challenge. For others, a sign of the times.

Blame him on the pandemic or the ripple effects that flow from it. Either way, good help is hard to find.

During the pandemic, of course, many restaurants closed or had to drastically limit occupancy rates for reasons of public safety. The staff members were released naturally. It made sense commercially.

But now that COVID-19 cases are declining, more people are getting vaccinated and authorities have allowed restaurants to fully reopen, which made sense a few months ago is causing some consternation today.

In situations, for example, where employees still receive unemployment checks, they may have little incentive to return.

Here, this problem does not seem so acute, at least according to a sample of restaurants.

While Chili’s on Mall Drive is feeling the staff shortage, with signs up front announcing both shortened hours and the fact that they are hiring, other restaurants are less pinched.

At Applebee, Interstate 30 and Summerhill, they operate full shifts. They are hiring however.

“We need hosts, bartenders, waiters, especially to staff our evening shift, which is the most active,” said host Ciara Swinney. “We are open from 10:45 am to midnight and our nights are well filled. Things have been going on since the mask requirements were lifted.”

Loca Luna opened its second location on West 7th Street a few weeks ago. Owner Hector Leal has reported slow recruiting in staffing his new restaurant. But he managed to staff the place, so they went ahead and opened.

Wendy’s on State Line is constantly recruiting, according to General Manager Angela Heath.

“We have no problem hiring, even though we do it constantly,” she said. “The other Wendy’s in Texarkana, on New Boston Road, also doesn’t have a hard time hiring, although they constantly do.

Another common theme that may not appear here but crosses the national stage is that some of these jobs are still considered dangerous due to the direct contact some employees have with customers. And as many restaurant reopens have taken place simultaneously, there is a competing demand for talent in this part of the workforce.

Another unintended consequence of the pandemic slowing down is that people who were laid off found work in other fields or took the opportunity to return to school and / or retrain in others. professions.

The National Restaurant Association reports that 2.5 million related jobs have been lost due to the pandemic and more than 100,000 food and beverage establishments have closed. About 700,000 of these particular jobs were lost in Texas during the peak of the pandemic.

For the record, the outlook does not seem so bleak.

At McAlister’s Deli here they are not reporting any issues hiring people and are currently updating a bunch of new people.

“We are still recruiting but no problem,” said Cecila Alvarado, Managing Director. “The hiring for us is handled by our Dallas office.”

Some restaurants have decided that the best tactic is to sweeten the pot. McDonald’s, for example, is increasing salaries at its corporate restaurants (about 5% of its outlets) as a competitive measure to attract workers.

Likewise, the pandemic has brought unexpected opportunities. Take-out and take-out opportunities continue in many places, even as the pandemic slows. Jobs have been created that did not exist before.

And the strategies initially considered to be short term are now made permanent. In Texas, for example, wine and mixed drinks can now be part of food pickup and delivery orders – a product of legislation just passed.

Restaurants are therefore faced with a bit of opportunity and a bit of angst.

They have a lot of stuff on their plates, of course. And have to scramble a bit.

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