A cafe owner said 3 job applicants failed to show for interviews. He's already using digital kiosks to plug a staff shortage.

·3 min read
Server Kelly Park takes food orders. At the Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery on Penn Ave in Wyomissing PA on February 26, 2021
Restaurants have had to cut their opening hours because of understaffing.Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
  • The owner of a cafe in Utah told Fox 13 that applicants haven't been showing up to interviews.

  • He's turning to digital order kiosks to plug the cafe's labor shortage.

  • The cafe has also cut its opening hours and stopped taking orders by phone.

The owner of a cafe in Riverton, Utah said no applicants showed up to the three interviews he'd scheduled last week.

He told Fox 13 that he's turning to tech as restaurants across the US continue to struggle recruiting and retaining staff.

"I've had three interviews this week, and none of them showed up," Daniel Murphy, the owner of Murphy's Cafe 126, told the media outlet. Other business owners say that job applicants keep failing to attend interviews, or accept a position but don't come to their first shift.

"I'm finding people that call and say, 'I only want to work during this time,'" Murphy said. "I tell them I'll be flexible and they still won't show up."

Record numbers of Americans are quitting their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Hospitality staff have also cited long and unsocial working hours, rude customers, and fears of catching COVID-19.

Murphy told Fox 13 that he had raised wages but that his cafe was still struggling to hire. He didn't say what the new wages were.

Murphy said he had installed two digital kiosks – screens that allow customers to place orders and pay without needing to speak to staff.

"They are a really big help, especially during our busy hours," Murphy said.

On its website the cafe is urging customers to order at the kiosks, though in a Facebook post Murphy said that he hoped they would only be temporary.

More and more restaurants are turning to tech like voice-recognition drive-thrus, digital order kiosks, and even robotic servers, both because they can't find enough staff and because labor is getting more expensive.

The CEO of digital-kiosk company GRUBBRR told Insider that automation was the only answer to the labor shortage and that the company's core belief is that the cashier is "obsolete."

Murphy's Cafe 126 has cut its opening hours because of understaffing

Independent restaurants are being crushed by the labor shortage, and the lack of labor has impacted operations at Murphy's Cafe 126.

Murphy told Fox 13 that the cafe used to answer its phone within two rings. "Now, we can't even answer the phones during the day," he said. On its website, the cafe says that it is no longer accepting phone orders "due to limited staff."

The cafe has also temporarily changed its menu and hours, including closing on Sundays and Mondays, because of a combination of its staffing problems and rising food costs.

In the Facebook post Murphy also acknowledged that "it may be a little longer wait time, and we may at times get an order wrong."

Murphy added that he had hired four students from a nearby high school to work evenings and weekends. Understaffed companies have been increasingly turning to younger workers to plug their labor shortages, like a McDonald's in Oregon and a Subway in Canada that have been recruiting 14-year-olds.

Got a story about the labor shortage? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com.

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