Restaurant workers are quitting in the middle of their shifts, reports say. The sector is facing an uphill battle to retain workers amid the labor shortage.

Department of labor
The US has been suffering from a labor shortage in recent months. Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Restaurant staffers were “just walking out in the middle of their shifts,” CNN Business reported.
  • Restaurants have struggled to attract employees amid the labor shortage.
  • Hostesses, “the dishwashers, the bussers … they’ll walk out,” a restaurant server told CNN.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An employee at a chain restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, told CNN Business that fellow staffers were sometimes “just walking out in the middle of their shifts” amid the US labor shortage.

“[Hostesses who] seat the tables, the dishwashers, the bussers … they’ll walk out,” a server at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen told the news network.

The story amounted to the latest in a series of dispatches from the frontlines of American restaurants, which have been struggling to attract employees as the world slowly returns to normalcy.

Workers have been leaving their jobs at high rates, giving job seekers all the power this summer. About 75% of independent restaurants said they were struggling to attract staff. Some have had to temporarily close because of staff shortages.

Insider has reached out to Darden, the restaurant chain’s corporate owner, for comment.

Darden’s chief operating officer, Rick Cardenes, in May told investors that staff productivity had increased this year, driven partly by menu redesigns and food preparation improvements.

Staff have been handling about 20% more guests per hour across the company’s restaurants, which include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, he said.

“We think that we’re fairly well-staffed right now, and as the environment continues to improve, we see no reason why we are not the employer of choice in our businesses,” CEO Gene Lee said.

On the same investor conference call, Lee said the improvement in productivity has been “resulting in these record-level margins” for the company’s restaurants.

At the Phoenix Cheddar’s restaurant, a staffer told CNN: “It’s almost like we’re running double the restaurant, comparatively, with half the staff.”