Restaurant managers are scrubbing tables, adding sanitizing stations and printing new menus as they get ready to open their doors. The one thing some of them are missing? People to make and serve the food.

More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April during the Covid-19 crisis, but restaurants are still finding it hard to hire help.

Some former employees are making more money now thanks to an extra federal emergency payment of $600 weekly on top of state unemployment benefits. Others have found new jobs or are staying home with kids. Many are simply too nervous to interact with the public before the coronavirus outbreak subsides.

The labor challenges compound the financial hurdles for the restaurant industry, which, according to the National Restaurant Association, has lost about $80 billion in sales through the end of April due to the coronavirus shutdowns.

Companies eyeing a return to normal operations, including Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina and Shake Shack Inc., are grappling with how to staff their restaurants.

“Some stores are definitely having a challenge,” said Scott Murphy, president of Dunkin’s Americas region. Especially in hard-hit areas such as New York City, he said, the restaurants are “having trouble getting workers.”

Hard Decisions
Tina Watson used to work every weekday at a Wendy’s in Santee, South Carolina. But with broad stay-at-home mandates going into effect in March, her hours were cut back sharply, reducing her $500 biweekly paycheck to less than half.

She doesn’t qualify for unemployment at the moment. Despite the financial strain, Watson, 41, is wary about working. Sometimes she can’t go because she doesn’t have anyone to watch her 11-year-old son, whose school is closed, leaving her restaurant short-staffed.

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to go back to work knowing my son can’t go to school and I don’t have a reliable sitter,” she said.

Federal Assistance
Of the job cuts announced from mid-March to late April, almost two-thirds have been in the entertainment and leisure sector including dining, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

First « 1 2 3 » Next