Las vegas restaurants

Las Vegas restaurants struggling as worker shortages ‘worsen’

Diners drank beer while others danced the aisles as the Hofbräuhaus reopened this week on Paradise Road.

“It was fantastic,” said general manager Michael Yi.

The Bavarian brewery reopened on Tuesday after being forced to close for the first time in its 17-year history in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also marked the first day that Las Vegas businesses and casinos could start operating at 100% capacity without any social distancing restrictions.

Crowds continued to flock to the brewery, but under Yi’s excitement lurks a concern that other Las Vegas restaurateurs have reported in recent months – difficulties finding workers to meet customer demand. And restaurateurs say the lack of workers means locals and tourists alike may find themselves waiting longer to be seated.

“We are managing our reservations a bit more closely,” said Yi. “When we were full we took reservations and didn’t really look at the size of the group. Now we take a look at it under the microscope and make sure to balance our bookings accordingly so that we don’t have a huge crowd at the same time. “

Yi said they were lucky that guests were patient when told of wait times of up to 30 minutes, adding that “so far they have all been very accommodating.” .

Las Vegas isn’t the only place in need of applicants. A report released Tuesday by the United States Chamber of Commerce found that there were half as many workers available for every job in the country than there have been on average over the past 20 years.

“The labor shortage is real – and it’s getting worse by the day,” House President and CEO Suzanne Clark said in a statement. “American businesses of all sizes, in all industries, in all states are reporting unprecedented challenges in filling vacancies. “

Nevada Restaurant Association spokesperson Alexandria Dazlich described recruiting challenges as “a complex puzzle.”

“In January, 8% of restaurateurs rated the recruitment and retention of the workforce as their main challenge. By April, that number had risen to 57%, ”Dazlich said in an emailed statement. “The labor shortage… is one of the biggest obstacles to recovery facing the industry today.”

Patience game

Kevin Mills, owner of Omelet House, said he had placed several ads but had not received any applications. He had to work on the cooking line, with his assistant manager.

“We have no shortage of hungry people,” Mills said. “What we have is a shortage of personnel to serve them.”

Economists say there are reasons for the shortage, such as parents who have to stay home with children, concerns about contracting COVID-19, workers returning to school, and benefits additional unemployment.

Stephen Miller, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, said another discussed explanation is the research process, where workers take their time and weigh their options.

“The question in the search process is, ‘OK, I got a job offer. Should I lower it and look for more? I could get a better deal, ”he said. “If you think about it, it’s no surprise that people looking to hire are having a hard time. There has been a huge influx of (job) offers, and employees may or may not wait for the first offer that comes their way.

Shake Shack regional manager Lissa Hamilton said it is true that applicants are more selective than in previous years, which is likely contributing to the hiring problems.

“Everyone is hiring, so everyone is very selective,” she said. “Everyone goes through multiple interviews to find the right fit, which is phenomenal, but at the same time, it slows down the process. “

The fast casual chain is looking for partners and directors at its four locations in Clark County. Hamilton said the company has stepped up publicity for its openings in recent weeks. She attended a job fair at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada in downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday and was able to hire a number of qualified candidates.

She adds that the company’s staffing shortage is not at a critical level, but current employees have had to work overtime.

Yi said he also found candidates who were looking to quit their current jobs by receiving counter-offers.

“I experienced this in monetary terms (counter-offers) and a lot of little perks like preferred times,” he said. “If someone wants to work nights but has day shifts, they can look for a night shift and their employer will accommodate them at the last minute.

‘Salt in the wound’

Andy Hooper, owner of El Luchador and Locale, said he has made up for his vacancies by having employees take extra shifts or overtime, noting that most of his openings are for positions at the back of the house such as cooks and dishwasher.

“We’re spending more money on digital advertising, social media – a lot of things we didn’t have to do before,” he said.

“Before, we could just set up the social networks that we recruit for a server and get 20 resumes.”

Hooper said things have taken a turn in the past two weeks, but finding workers remains difficult and costs the company more than in previous years.

Signs of relief will likely take months, according to Miller, who expects hiring challenges to ease next year.

Blau & Associates President and COO Jason Lapin said he has worked in the restaurant industry for over 30 years and has never seen such staff shortages.

“I’m not even talking about Las Vegas or the United States,” said Lapin, whose group includes Honey Salt and Buddy V’s Ristorante. “We consult all over the world, and I’ve never seen it so bad.”

He said the group’s properties had been able to recruit staff, in part thanks to the return of many former employees. Rabbit said his “heart really goes” to his colleagues who are reopening and having to hire completely new staff at a time when business is finally booming.

“There is more business than restaurants can handle … and that is really the salt of the wound,” he said. “You’ve been closed all this time and now there’s all this stuff out there, and you can’t satisfy it.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at [email protected] or 702-383-0340. To follow @SubrinaH on Twitter. Review-Journal photographer Kevin Cannon contributed to this report.

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