Too many jobs, too few applicants: Fresno restaurants facing staffing shortages

Some restaurants are offering employee referral bonuses to get new applicants.

Thursday, May 6, 2021
Businesses can't find enough staff to reopen
As COVID-19 restrictions loosen across Central California, restaurants are facing another hurdle to opening.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cinco de Mayo is one of the biggest days for restaurants, and customers were quickly filling tables as restrictions loosen.

But now, restaurants are facing another problem - finding enough staff to meet the demand.

RELATED: Many local businesses hiring for multiple positions

The holiday is one of the busiest for Sal's Mexican Restaurant.

Co-owner Lorraine Salazar says they usually have at least 50 employees working, but now they have a little more than 30 employees working extra hours.

She's turning to her own workers for help with hires, offering employee referral bonuses to get new applicants.

Over the past several weeks, restaurants have posted about open positions on social media.

Cattlemens in Selma is even offering a sign-on bonus for new employees.

Chuck Van Fleet, Owner of Vino Grille and Spirits, says assistance aimed to help the unemployed is hurting business owners instead.

"People will make an appointment for an interview, and then you get no-shows. They're using that as proof to stay on unemployment," says Van Fleet.

The shortage is leading to longer wait times, changes to business hours, and short-term closures.

The owner of Yosemite Falls Cafe isn't offering incentives yet but he is reaching out to state legislators in hopes they provide funds to get people back to work.

With demand going up and the Mother's Day holiday ahead, restaurant owners are hoping to find more help, fast.

The Biden administration extended enhanced employment benefits through September 6.

That's how long restaurant owners say they expect this staffing shortage to be a problem if it isn't extended.