A Michigan restaurant owner relies on friends to pick up shifts because she can’t find enough workers to wait tables: report

Waitress New York coronavirus
The hospitality sector is shedding jobs. Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • A Michigan restaurant owner is asking friends to wait tables because of a labor shortage.
  • Without enough staff, customer service is suffering, she told local news site WSBT.
  • She said it’s becoming harder to compete with bigger chains that offer bonuses and cash incentives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Michigan restaurant owner is relying on friends to pick up shifts because she can’t find enough workers during the labor shortage.

Karina Fernandez, the owner of Maple Café in Edwardsburg, told local news site WSBT that service at her cafe is suffering because of the staff shortage. Friends who are helping say it’s impossible to give good service because there aren’t enough staff to wait tables.

It’s getting harder for small businesses like hers to attract workers, Fernandez said, because larger chains are offering cash incentives or bonuses.

“We’re competing with corporations that are giving incentives to start up to $US1,000 ($AU1,345), I can’t afford that,” she said.

She was fully staffed before the pandemic began, but it’s been difficult to recruit workers since because people want more secure jobs, she said.

“Everybody’s too afraid to come to a job and then not have it in a couple [of] weeks or a week later,” she added. “Before the shutdown we were fully staffed and it was working right, but when the second shutdown happened everybody went to factories because they had something secure.”

Many food-service businesses are struggling to hire workers. The US jobs report from August showed that the number of people working in food services and drinking places dropped by 42,000 that month, the first drop since April 2020 and the largest drop overall across all nonfarm industries.

Some workers are switching careers to get higher-paying jobs, including in the retail and food-service sectors. For example, a demotivated dollar-store worker quit retail after an impressed customer told her to apply to a law firm, and now earns $US3 ($AU4) an hour more, plus benefits.

Others are using the labor shortage to boost their careers. Keith Lane told Missouri newspaper the Springfield News-Leader that he’d used the labor crunch to rise up the ranks quickly at Domino’s, taking on extra hours to bring in more cash.