Updated: April 04, 2021 11:15 PM
Created: April 04, 2021 10:31 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It might sound strange considering the huge hit that restaurants took over the past year, but many local restaurants are now looking to bring more staff on board.
If you've driven east on 490 recently, you might have noticed an unusual billboard saying "Jeremiah's Tavern, hiring all positions." It turns out Jeremiah's is not alone.
"A lot of restaurants are really having a tough time coming back," says Drew Nye, co-owner of Roam Cafe on Park Avenue. "I've seen a lot of restaurants just limiting their hours simply because they don't have the staff to be open."
As you walk up and down Park Avenue in Rochester, you'll see many restaurants with "Help Wanted" signs hanging in their windows. Roam Cafe, which is located near Goodman Street on Park Ave, is among dozens of restaurants looking to expand its staff to meet the growing demand.
"Demand is way up," says Nye. "It's almost back to where it was pre-COVID, and after over a year it's really refreshing and really exciting to be able to say that."
The increase in demand can be attributed to a couple of things: warmer weather and more people getting the vaccine.
"Between the widespread vaccinations, that's definitely getting people more comfortable being out," says Nye. "Our staff is almost entirely vaccinated so that makes guests more comfortable coming here."
Roam Cafe was able to keep all of its staff working throughout the pandemic, but other restaurants are having difficulty bringing workers back. Stimulus money and unemployment benefits could be contributing to the current shortage of restaurant workers.
"A lot of restaurants in the industry are having a tough time getting staff back from unemployment," says Nye.
Another big issue on restaurant owners' minds is the use of sidewalk space for outdoor dining. The City of Rochester is still technically under an emergency order, which means Mayor Lovely Warren can still exercise her emergency powers and there's a bit more flexibility with how sidewalk space is used. Restaurants are concerned that once the emergency order is lifted, changes could be coming to sidewalk space.
The general feeling among restaurant owners right now is that, while it is a problem to have more demand than staff to meet the demand, it's a good problem to have.
"It's a very promising sign that businesses are looking for staff again," says Nye.
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