Valley restaurants struggle to find long-term staff

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Restaurant owners across Fresno County are in dire need of help as staffing shortages continue to plague the industry. As customers return to dining rooms, employees are accepting other jobs or not showing up at all, leaving restaurants short-staffed.

Action News spoke to two local restaurant owners who explained why this may be happening and how to fix it.

Local restaurant owner Louie Maglieri, who runs the popular restaurant Oggi Cosi Si Mangia in the Tower District, says his problem is not getting customers to dine-in but instead hiring employees who actually show up.

"These days, most interviews don't even show up for an interview, let alone come to work. When we do get a guy, he wants to go by his schedule and he wants $20 or more to wash dishes," explained Maglieri.

The California Restaurant Association says that jobs are out there and people are applying, but some chose to stay for a short period of time, before going elsewhere.

"The main problem we are having right now is turnover. We are seeing more hiring but we are also seeing people not staying," said Raul Gutierrez, President of the California Restaurant Association.

"In 2019, the annual average in the leisure and hospitality field was a little over 36, almost 36,000. And for 2020, it was over 28,000," said Steven Gutierrez, Labor Market Consultant with the Employment Development Department.

That is around a 7,000 decrease in labor staff in just one year's time, the shortage felt both statewide and locally as restaurant owners are left puzzled as to why the employee shortage is happening, having assumed that by this time, the business would return to normal.

"I figured once the funds ran out, once they stop all the benefits and stuff. I assumed that people would be back already," explained Maglieri.

"We're definitely seeing a situation where employees are feeling empowered. They go from job to job and when they find something they like, they'll stick," added Gutierrez.

Restaurant owners Action News that a short-term solution for this problem could be technology, which has been slowly replacing staff, but the problem in the long term is that technology could replace employees all together.
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