NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It’s been more than a year into the pandemic and some restaurants across the Nashville area are still struggling, but not in the same ways they were a few months ago.
Now that more people are getting vaccinated and things are slowly getting back to normal, more people are dining out.
However, they’re finding restaurants with long waits and short-staffed service.
You can walk in to almost any restaurant in the area and you’ll see “Help Wanted” signs. More and more restaurant owners are having to turn away customers or not answer their phones for to-go orders because there’s simply not enough people working there to make business as profitable as it can be right now.
“There’s a definite spike right now of people wanting to come out and we’re seeing bigger numbers. The unfortunate side of that is the employees aren’t coming back,” said Bob Tappin, Director of Operations at Sam’s Place.
Like many restaurants in Nashville, Sam’s Place can’t get enough workers to come back to keep up with the demand of customers lately. That’s because most of them are making more money on unemployment than they are in the workplace, thanks to the ongoing weekly bonuses issued by the government.
However, because of the struggling industry, President Biden announced in a speech Wednesday news of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a more than $28 billion grant aimed to help business owners in the food industry.
“Right now, only about a quarter of restaurant owners are expected to return to normal in the next six months,” said Biden. “We can do much better than that with the American Rescue Plan.”
But it may not be enough, and not everyone wants the handout.
“We really just want to do business. We don’t want any money,” said Tappin. “We just want to have employees and work.”
To make up for the lack of employees, Tappin said they have hired about 20% more high schoolers to their staff and more servers with no experience than ever before.
The shortage isn’t just in the restaurant industry.
There’s a trickle-down effect all the way to the supply chain with a shortage in delivery drivers and workers in the manufacturing plants.