Restaurants Struggling To Retain Workers As Eateries Reopen

Restaurants are struggling to get cooks and servers to come back to work during the pandemic after many had to go on leave once indoor dining closed down. Nicole Comstock reports.

Video Transcript

- Tonight at 10:00, restaurants across the Southland getting back to business as usual as the pandemic restrictions are easing up. However, there is a problem. Things are moving so quickly. Some owners have not been able to get enough workers back on their staff.

- KCAL 9 Nicole Comstock is live tonight in Monrovia with more on the restaurant hiring spree, Nicole.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Suzie and Jeff, you'd think that people would be jumping at these open jobs, especially after being laid off during the pandemic. But that's not the case.

They need all the hands they can get at Taqueria El Diablo. Business is bustling again on Myrtle Avenue in old town Monrovia.

ALEJANDRA CARBAJAL: Were back in business. We're back to work.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Owner Alejandro Carbajal had to lay off most of our employees for six to eight months during the thick of the pandemic. Her cashiers, her cooks, even the tortilla maker. Thankfully, she was recently able to ask them back.

ALEJANDRA CARBAJAL: Thank God they came back. They're all here.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: But other restaurants in town have really struggled to hire staff again. And the restaurant worker shortage is now a problem across the nation.

ALEJANDRA CARBAJAL: Number 1 reason was because a lot of people was getting their stimulus check. They were more comfortable being at home. Others were moms that were not able to work.

NIKKI CAIELLO: All of those reasons were things that I heard all the time.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Nikki Caiello is the co-owner of Sena in Myrtle. She says she had no luck hiring three of the major job websites or posting on their social media accounts.

NIKKI CAIELLO: We have a pretty good social media moment and it was like nothing, like nothing. And so finally, I printed it on our menu.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: There it is in print, "join our team, hiring all positions."

NIKKI CAIELLO: We have so many spots to fill.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: She says it's evident from her hiring struggles that job seekers are also switching industries. The pandemic inspiring them to take different career paths.

NIKKI CAIELLO: I've hired more people now that never worked in restaurants before than ever.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: And with fewer workers serving as surgeon customers while adapting to New COVID safe business models. Restaurant jobs are harder work than they used to be.

But Nikki says now that restaurants are busy again, pretty much all day long, there's good money to be made. Reporting live in Monrovia, I'm Nicole Comstock, KCAL 9 news.

- All right, Nicole. Thank you very much.