Valley bars and restaurants feeling impact of worker, supply shortage amid pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Restaurants and bars are hungry for help. Across the country, businesses have reported difficulty securing staff.

At Vino Grill and Spirits in northeast Fresno, co-owner Chuck Van Fleet is looking for experienced cooks and bartenders.

Only two of the three dining spaces in the restaurant are in use as a result of the workforce shortage. In some instances, even forcing them to turn customers away.

"We want everyone to have that great experience," he said. "We are not going to bring somebody in, sit them down, give them a cocktail and wait an hour for their food."

He says after the hospitality industry spent well over a year in the COVID crisis, the worst is not behind them.

"This is actually worse than COVID," he said. "COVID, we had barriers up that we knew how to manage. We could pivot, we could do whatever we needed to save our business. Right now, we are not in control of this. We are not in control of brining people in because they are just not interviewing."

Plus, there's the added challenge of product and supply delivery delays.

At Vino, that means regularly dealing with out-of-stock liquor, wine and food items.

"The supply chain is very much pinched like a hose," Van Fleet said. "Some of them have products. Some of them are out of products. They don't have loaders for trucks, they don't have drivers for trucks."

Food-delivery titan Sysco Foods didn't show up to Max's Bistro in northwest Fresno Tuesday as expected.

"We were supposed to get a Sysco delivery," says General Manager J.J. Wettstead. "It did not show up. We are hoping to get the Sysco delivery Wednesday."

An added challenge is when the restaurant is already operating at only 75 percent capacity due to its own staff shortages.

"You have those two things happening at the same time," Wettstead said. "You have people with a massive desire to get out, eat, then you have a little bit of shortage of staff."

The advice to diners: have patience and make a reservation.
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