- Fast-food locations around the country are temporarily closing dining rooms or cutting hours.
- Owners say that they can’t open dining rooms without enough staff.
- The restaurant industry has faced a shortage of workers for the last year.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Restaurant chains are going through another round of dining room closures, but this time it’s not directly because of COVID-19 infections. Chains are having to adjust hours or only operate drive-thrus as they face a lack of staff to keep restaurants running.
McDonald’s reminded franchisees of guidelines that would allow them to close dining rooms in areas with high rates of infection, and Chick-fil-A is allowing operators to keep them closed through January for safety, but many dining room closures across the country are actually a direct result of the labor shortage.
Three Chick-fil-A restaurants in Alabama had to close their dining rooms over lack of staff, though they continued to make food for delivery.
“We, along with many businesses, are in the middle of a hiring crisis,” the Calera, Alabama Chick-fil-A restaurant said in a Facebook post. A McDonald’s location in North Carolina made a similar move, closing the dining room while keeping the drive-thru running.
Two more Chick-fil-A locations in northern Alabama have started closing early because of “extremely short staffing,” Grace Dean reported for Insider. Two campus Starbucks locations at the University of Alabama temporarily closed dining rooms due to “limited staff and supply chain challenges,” The Crimson White reported.
Staffing issues are a problem across the country. In an August earnings call, Wendy’s president and CEO told investors that some dining rooms were closing early and operating drive-thru only because of a lack of workers.
A Dunkin’ location in Colorado temporarily closed operations completely after it was down to only three workers, Zahra Tayeb reported for Insider.
“We’re in a major labor crisis and that is the 100% reason why we’re closed,” Alex Apodaca, chief operating officer at JB Partners, the franchisee, said. “No other reason.” JB Partners closed and reopened two other Colorado locations this year over hiring issues.
At least two Dunkin’ locations in Rochester, New York have also shortened hours, and a location in The Villages in Florida temporarily closed its dining room for several days.
“It’s really tough times for staffing,” Kalinowski Equity founder Mark Kalinowski previously told Insider. Restaurant workers continue to quit the industry at record rates, moving to jobs where they don’t have to interact with angry customers. To ward off potential closures, some operators have gotten creative by recruiting young teen workers and offering sign-on bonuses and hiring incentives.
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