March/April 2023

The restaurant industry is reeling from a widely reported labor shortage, causing many operations to change the way they function. Some fast food chains have resisted opening their dining rooms, kept shorter operating hours and placed high demands

on existing employees in order to function with a smaller staff. The reasons for the shortage, which is affecting restaurants from quick serve to fine dining, are complex and hotly debated. But whether the root cause is higher unemployment benefits, an industry battling a historic reputation for low wages and difficult working conditions, or the pandemic and its chilling effect on the hospitality industry as a whole, the result is that restaurants are put in a position of doing more with less. THE CHALLENGE Lower-than-desired staff levels can have a ripple effect on a restaurant’s operation. In full-service restaurants, fewer front-of-house workers means larger sections for each worker to cover, potentially resulting in slowed or worsened service as servers rush from table to table. In every kind of operation, fewer back-of-house workers to prepare meals means longer wait times for orders to be fulfilled and a potential increase in errors from rushed workers. The end result may be less efficiency and thus less revenue — not to mention unhappy customers. To adapt to these challenges, many restaurants have cut their hours — eliminating a meal period like lunch or an entire day of service — reduced their seating capacity, or shrunk their menu to streamline kitchen operations. continued on page 14

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