Teenage fast-food workers are landing $50,000-a-year manager jobs at a Texas chicken restaurant thanks to the labor shortage

A restaurant worker wears a facemark while holding a tablet to take customer orders.
A restaurant chain in Texas has promoted young workers to manager roles amid a labor shortage. Getty Images
  • Layne’s Chicken Fingers promoted some workers in their late teens to managers, The WSJ reported.
  • CEO Garrett Reed said the fast-food chain was losing staff to Walmart and McDonald’s.
  • Some of these younger workers were now earning more than $50,000 a year, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Texas chicken-restaurant chain has promoted workers in their late teens and early 20s to managerial positions that pay more than $50,000 per year because of a staff shortage, its CEO told The Wall Street Journal.

Garrett Reed, the CEO of Layne’s Chicken Fingers, a fast-food chain with six restaurants across the state, told The Wall Street Journal he was training 16- and 17-year-olds to run new stores because he was so short on staff.

Layne’s was struggling to hire and had lost employees to larger employers such as Walmart and McDonald’s, Reed told The Journal.

“We’re so thin at leadership that we can’t stretch anymore to open more locations,” he told the Journal. “I’ve got a good crop of 16- and 17-year-olds, but I need another year or two to get them seasoned to run stores.”

The hospitality industry is facing a severe labor shortage. Job openings in the accommodation and food-services industry rose by 349,000 in April, the highest of any industry that month, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed, and some restaurants have hiked wages to attract workers.

Reed said in an interview with the Dallas publication D Magazine in May that he hoped to open between 100 and 120 franchise locations in Texas by 2028. The company recently opened applications for new franchises on its website.

But Reed had delayed signing leases for four new restaurants in Dallas because he couldn’t find enough workers, particularly managers, he told The Journal.

“The biggest challenge for small companies to grow right now is your labor force,” Reed said. “We’d be growing at twice the rate if we had more people.”

“There’s only so much I can pay and remain profitable without raising prices too much,” Reed told The Journal.

Layne’s did not immediately respond to Insider for comment.