- Restaurants close earlier or close their dining rooms due to labor shortages.
- They say this means they can provide better and faster service and save money on labor.
- But a cafe owner said some employees actually stopped after she reduced her hours.
If you have eaten out recently, you may have noticed that it was a little different.
Some restaurants open later and close earlier, while others close their dining rooms completely.
In some places, this is due to increasing cases of the Delta variant or lack of ingredients due to supply chain problems. But many restaurants say it’s because of the huge shortage of labor.
Both independent restaurants and chains, including McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, have changed their opening hours or were just about takeaway, both because they can not find enough staff to function normally and because labor is becoming more expensive.
Many of the restaurants Insider spoke to said they had no choice but to cut back on hours or close their dining rooms.
Willie Degel, the owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, said the restaurant on the Manhattan West Side, which was open at 6 p.m. 11-23 seven days a week before the pandemic, now only open between kl. 12 and 21 Monday to Friday. The chain’s restaurants in Georgia also operate at “minimal hours,” he added.
“In the restaurant business, you have to control every penny,” Degel said. He based the new opening hours on the restaurants’ sales and wage costs per hour.
“Everything is numbers,” Degel added. He decided to close Uncle Jack’s dining rooms because it mainly had sit-in diners.
Robert Cvetkovski, CEO of Rhumcay Island Grille, a 700-person restaurant in Destin, Florida, cut down on most of his entertainment late at night.
“Because of the limited staff, we had to decide the quality of life for the team members who were already overworked,” Cvetkovski said. He said he felt that eliminating nightlife and late night hours would help create a more stable environment.
Robin LaForge, who owns Cheniere Shack in West Monroe, Louisiana, decided to close his restaurant two days a week and close it an hour earlier other days after its staffing dropped by about three-quarters.
LaForge said this meant customers got better service and food, though he said this has contributed to revenue declining by up to 40%.
But changing a company’s opening hours can actually make it harder to find staff. Mirna McCormack, who owns Korner Cafe in Lewisville, Texas, said some employees stopped after she changed the closing time from 9pm to 3pm because they could only work night shifts.
Most restaurants planned to cut their opening hours in advance — but some have closed randomly after finding themselves short-staffed. This includes Joey’s Chicken Shack in Pennsylvania, which closed for 24 hours because it could not get enough staff in. A burrito restaurant in Georgia also had to temporarily reduce its opening hours after all staff had stopped.
Some restaurants have temporarily stopped eating or eating
The Bombay Mahal in Brunswick, Maine, closed its dining room and turned only to take-away.
Owner Raj Sharma told Insider that during the pandemic, the restaurant had many new customers who only ordered take-away. Sharma said the new model worked “very well.
Kelly’s Gingernut Pub in Cape Charles, Virginia, is one of the few others that did the opposite by stopping takeaway. Co-owner Colleen Kelley said she would prioritize dining customers to ensure service was fast and food was high quality.
But sometimes orders were still slower than usual. “You ask [diners] to be patient, but sometimes they forget, “she said.” They get angry and then you get a bad review. “
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