CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Cleveland-area restaurants are making strides toward recovering losses suffered during the COVID-19 shut down, but some of them aren’t able to fully operate even at their limited capacity because they are short staffed.
Some owners report that a percentage of employees are still uncomfortable returning to the workplace and interacting with the public, for various health concerns.
At Salt in Lakewood, owner Jessica Parkinson says they’ve gone above and beyond to show their staff and customers that they’re safe, and they’ve empowered their staff to talk with diners about contact, and where they’re standing and moving, to make them feel comfortable and help with employee retention.
“We’re more fine dining. So how does decanting a bottle of wine look when you really need to be in their space doing it? We have the action. ‘Are you comfortable with me decanting your wine at the table or would you like us to do it at the bar and then we’ll bring it back to you?‘” Parkinson explained.
She says there are signs everywhere to enforce and encourage safe practices.
“It’s a lot of dialogue between our staff and the customer,” she said.
The other problem has to do with unemployment benefits.
Ownership groups like Hospitality Restaurants, which operates 8 restaurants in the area, offered jobs back to 90 percent of their more than 300 employees, but they are still actively looking to hire people.
“The federal government is giving them $600 a week if they’re on unemployment. If they work part time only, all our full timers, then they quality for that $600. It’s really quite a dilemma for them and we appreciate it that they can make more money by working a whole lot less, but we have a business to run,” said owner George Schindler.
The Hospitality Restaurants are at 70-80% of sales, where most of the state is only at about 50%, according to the Ohio Restaurant Association.
“No one expected us to be this busy,” Schindler said.
He says if they don’t hire more people they can’t meet the guest expectations.
“Just last weekend we had a lot of reservations. We actually had to cut off some of our reservations because we just couldn’t get enough staff to come in and work that day,” Schindler said.
Schindler says employees need to balance short term and long term goals.
“The difficult thing is if we need to bring more people on now, when that program goes away in the end of July, the people who didn’t want to work as much now are going to be faced with less opportunity then,” he said.
If you’d like to apply for a job with Hospitality Restaurants, click here.