Worker shortage further hurting NYC restaurants
Restaurant owners dealing with lack of applicants
As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, restaurant owners face worker shortage
Big Apple restaurants can only serve half their pre-pandemic indoor capacity — and yet they still don’t have enough help to make it work.
Eateries are getting crushed by a shortage of workers both in kitchens and on the floor despite sky high unemployment and a growing vaccination effort. It’s part of the national hiring crisis in many industries, which The Post’s Lisa Fickenscher reported this week.
"It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen in my 17 years in New York," said Bernard Collin, a partner in the Upper East Side’s Orsay, La Goulue and Bar Italia. He blamed much of the labor shortfall on "government assistance where people would rather stay home and pocket their cash."
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Those out of work can receive $805 a week between New York State Unemployment Benefits and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.
The Restaurant Group owner Jeremy Wladis, who oversees new Hachi Maki, Good Enough to Eat and Harvest Kitchen, echoed, "Nobody wants to leave their couch. The American public has gotten so used to doing nothing."
Others blame the difficulty in hiring on lingering COVID-19 fears and last year’s exodus from town of employees who previously worked in restaurants to support their now-paused show business careers.
Stephen Starr, who owns nine Manhattan places including giant Buddakan and Clocktower, said, "We had people leave for places like Lansing, Michigan. Our chef at Electric Lemon [at Hudson Yards] moved to Milwaukee, where his wife’s family is."
Nobody’s more aware of the problem than Rick Camac, owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen on Church Street – and also the dean of restaurant and hospitality management at the Institute for Culinary Education.
The situation "is killing us," he said. He had to close Tribeca’s Kitchen on Mondays and Tuesdays because "we can’t find enough people to fill a seven-day week."