Chicago’s restaurant industry is struggling to hire staff

Restaurant and retail reporter, Ally Marotti, explains why Chicago restaurants are having such a difficult time finding workers

Video Transcript


CISCO COTT: So you have these restaurants. They've been waiting to get back open, they want to get back open, and now it sounds like they're struggling to find the workers they need to get back open.

ALLY MAROTTI: Yeah, it's true. It's become a huge problem in the restaurant industry and, I'm hearing, other industries too. But you know, everybody's eyes are kind of on the restaurant industry right now as everybody gets excited to go back out to eat.

CISCO COTT: Are they at all talking about why they're having trouble finding-- you figure there's unemployed people who either weren't working there or would like to work there. They just want a job.

ALLY MAROTTI: Right, so there's sort of like this perfect storm of all these different factors coming together to create this huge problem for the poor restaurant operators who have already been, you know, running at a loss for the better part of a year. But basically, you know, back in March and April last year, when everything had to shut down, the industry had to lay off a ton of workers. It was a huge hit.

And they were able to bring some back over the summer-- you know, with patio seasons-- but then, everything shut down again in October, November, December, reopened in January. It's been this real roller coaster for these restaurants. A lot of people left the industry. You know, they were like, we don't want to do this. They went back to school, went to something more stable.

Some people left Chicago, you know, to go to areas that maybe weren't as strict with their restaurant restrictions. And then, some people may just not be ready to go back yet. Restaurant workers just became eligible for their vaccine at the end of March, and at this point, they might want to wait for that. Others, you know, they may be OK with the unemployment that they're getting, the stimulus money that they're getting. There's kind of a lot. And then, at the same time, you know, every restaurant that survived the pandemic is trying to reopen and staff up right now, on top of a normal hiring spree that goes on in the springtime to get ready for the summer.