The owner of a Ukrainian restaurant in New York says it can no longer open 24 hours a day because his overnight crew quit amid the labor shortage

·2 min read
Customers dine at Veselka's outdoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic in the East Village on April 07, 2021 in New York City.
Customers dine at Veselka's outdoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic in the East Village in April 202, in New York City.Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
  • A Ukrainian restaurant in New York can't open for 24 hours after the overnight crew quit, the owner said.

  • The owner of Veselka said he's struggling to find people to work for less than $20 an hour.

  • The restaurant had 100 employees before the pandemic. Now it has dropped to 80 staff.

A Ukrainian restaurant based in New York can't remain open for 24 hours because the overnight crew quit their jobs amid the labor shortage, the owner said.

Before the pandemic began, Veselka was open all day and all night, its boss, Jason Birchard, told Insider in an interview on Tuesday. But now, the restaurant is only open from 8 a.m. to midnight. From midnight to 8 a.m. Veselka is closed because he doesn't have enough staff.

"I'm missing an overnight shift," said Birchard, who works six days a week. "I had a crew that never came back to work."

Severe staff shortages have hit large and small businesses across the US since the pandemic struck. As part of the Great Resignation, many workers have left their jobs in protest of low wages, few benefits, and unsatisfactory working conditions.

The Ukrainian restaurant, which is a family business, had 100 employees before the onset of COVID-19. Since then, Birchard has lost 20 members of staff.

Birchard said the average wage he pays his employees is between $20 and $25 an hour. Front-of-house staff that receive tips are paid between $10 to $15 per hour, he said.

The minimum wage in New York City is $10 an hour for tipped food service workers, $15 for tipped service employees, and $15 without tips, according to the city's Department of Labor.

"I can't find an employee that will work for less than $20 [an hour]," he said.

For the overnight shift, Birchard said: "I'm willing to pay even premium wage but I just can't find the people."

Birchard told Insider in March that restaurant sales had jumped 75% since the Ukraine war began. Four months later, this trend hasn't slowed down, he said on Tuesday.

He said he'll be able to hire some college students who are staying in New York for the summer but added "it's a different group of people I'm looking for overnight."

Read the original article on Business Insider