ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – As summer heats up, restaurant owners in Saint-Louis say News 4’s business is booming, but they’re struggling to find employees. Many restaurants are reducing their hours as open positions remain vacant and current employees are overworked to fill needs.
At Chris’ Pancake and Dining in South City, owner Chris Saracino said they are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But due to lack of staff, he had to close the restaurant three hours earlier. He said it is about valuing the quality of service over the quantity of customers.
“If your staff are busy, tired and stressed, it will affect service and we don’t want to maintain our quality standards,” Saracino said.
The owner said he is filling the gaps – as a host, waiter and cook to help keep the restaurant afloat. He is encouraged to see his customer base larger than they were before the pandemic – but wishes he could find people to serve them.
“We work them 13 hours a day sometimes 6-7 days a week and it’s not a quality of life I was comfortable with having them away from their families,” Saracino said.
Its downtown location, Chris’ at the Docket, is closed on Tuesdays to give current employees a break. If the hiring puzzle persists, he fears he will also have to shut down his South City site one day a week.
Restaurants in the St. Louis area are making similar adjustments. Lewis and Clark’s on Main Street in St. Charles is now closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On the Hill, Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
In Kirkwood, Bob Menendez owns Sunset 44 Bistro and Banquet and has said he serves as host and cook. He expanded his patio during the pandemic to make up for lost sales, but has now said he doesn’t have the staff to wait for as many customers as he can seat. He said those interviewed will fill out applications and never show up.
“Out of 35 interviews, out of 60 people you evaluated, one could show it. If you’re lucky, two, ”Menendez said.
With federal unemployment benefits ending in Missouri this Saturday, he hopes he gets more potential hires soon. But Menendez doesn’t hold his breath.
“There was an old saying: ‘once you get to Paris, you won’t come back to the farm.’ Once you’ve been paid to sit at home, do you really want to come back? Said Menendez.
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