A pizzeria in Chicago couldn’t open on Sunday because of short-staffing, costing it $5,000, its owner said.
The owner of Coalfire Pizza said some staff had quit for higher-paid jobs at larger restaurants.
People were avoiding restaurant jobs partly because of a reputation of toxic work environments, he said.
“We are closed today. I simply do not have enough people to open,” Dave Bonomi, the owner of Coalfire Pizza in West Town, tweeted on Sunday. “In nearly 15 years of selling pizza, this has never happened.”
Bonomi told CBS that he was struggling to find new employees during the labor shortage, and had to close the pizzeria after two staffers had called in sick.
Some of Coalfire’s staff had quit for higher-paid jobs at larger restaurant groups and hotels, too, Bonomi added. Coalfire had boosted its starting salary for cooks with little to no prior experience from $15 to $18 an hour, he said.
Staff also got paid time off and overtime pay, and were able to enroll in a health plan with half the costs covered by the company, he said.
Independent restaurants say they struggle to compete with bigger companies on wages and benefits.
Businesses across the US are suffering from a huge labor shortage, making it harder for them to find last-minute cover when their staff are ill.
Other restaurants have had to close with little notice after suddenly finding themselves short-staffed, such as a Pennsylvania chicken restaurant that closed for a day and a Georgia burrito restaurant that temporarily cut its opening hours after its entire staff quit.
Bonomi told Block Club Chicago that Coalfire, which also has a pizzeria in Chicago’s Lakeview, had been “running on fumes” for a few years with a skeleton staff. He said that the staffing problems had gotten worse during the pandemic, and that the pizzeria had barely enough staff to stay open.
Bonomi said a surge of people who had been laid off from higher-paying restaurant jobs had applied to work at Coalfire at the start of the pandemic, but that this had stopped.
Now, huge numbers of Coalfire’s job applicants aren’t even turning up for interviews, he said.
This was “like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Bonomi said.
Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last
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