Restaurants in Texas are finding it hard to attract staff

Andy Uhler May 7, 2021
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“About 91% of restaurants report openings they can't fill,” said Emily Williams Knight with the Texas Restaurant Association. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Restaurants in Texas are finding it hard to attract staff

Andy Uhler May 7, 2021
Heard on:
“About 91% of restaurants report openings they can't fill,” said Emily Williams Knight with the Texas Restaurant Association. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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COPY

Despite this month’s terrible jobs report — U.S. employers added just 266,000 jobs in April — there are places that are hiring. 

Especially in states like Texas, which has been “open for business,” according to the governor, since early March. The problem is that now, the workforce just isn’t there. 

And competition among employers to fill those open jobs, especially in restaurants and hospitality in general, is fierce. 

But there is good news for people like Mark Maguire, managing partner of Maguire’s in north Dallas.

“There seems to be a pent-up demand, and we are seeing a higher volume of people coming out,” Maguire said.

The bad news? “I need every single position. I need hostesses, food runners, bussers, servers, bartenders, dishwashers and cooks. I need everything.”

Problem is, he said, so does just about every other restaurant in town.

“There are banners on buildings right up the tollway for me that are saying $1,000 signing bonus for servers and cooks,” Maguire said.

“About 91% of restaurants report openings they can’t fill,” said Emily Williams Knight with the Texas Restaurant Association. She said back in 2019, 1.3 million people worked in bars and restaurants in Texas. 

“When the pandemic first hit that first six weeks, we did lose some of that workforce. They went off to other, you know, logistics, grocery, etc.”

And many of them are done with the service industry. 

Restaurant workers have been among the most at-risk population for getting COVID-19. And some of that workforce died.

Williams Knight said now that things are opening back up, restaurants must compete with a whole host of other industries for workers, like construction, retail and manufacturing. They must also compete with unemployment benefits, she said.

“The incentives, we believe, just aren’t aligned in the right way to get people back out there,” she said.

But many say the onus is on restaurant owners to make jobs more desirable by offering health care and retirement options. And that would likely mean they’d have to pass that cost onto customers.

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