North Texas Restaurants Seeking Workers – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Finding workers in the service industry remains a struggle for thousands of restaurant and bar owners in North Texas. Some offer incentives to get people in the door and on board who seem almost too good to be true.

Some restaurants offer cash bonuses with all the perks on site, but even that doesn’t convince most people to sign up.

According to the Texas Restaurant Association, 91% of restaurant operators in the state say they have vacancies that are difficult to fill. And what is most worrying is that they don’t expect work challenges to subside after the pandemic ends.

Meanwhile, 93% of operators say that recruiting and retaining employees will likely be more difficult after the pandemic is over than after the pandemic.

“It’s a real problem, especially when you combine it with the losses the industry has seen over the past year,” said Kelsey Streufert of the Texas Restaurant Association. “We have rising food and other raw material prices that we are also dealing with. So it’s another really significant challenge at a time when we have to rebuild and ramp up to make up for last year. “

Local restaurants still have to close earlier than normal or only open on certain days because they simply don’t have the staff.

The Texas Restaurant Association has asked Governor Greg Abbott and chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission Bryan Daniel to address the critical labor shortage by:

  • Considering the end of Texas participation in the additional federal benefit of $ 300 per week added to standard unemployment insurance.
  • Promotion of employment opportunities in the state and the requirement of job search.
  • Exploring additional steps Texas can take – possibly with funding the state receives from the American Rescue Plan Act – to help workers re-enter the labor market and their families.

“Every day we talk to diners who can’t find enough staff to do their regular shifts. You get really creative. And the good news is we’re seeing higher wages and better benefits than ever before in the industry, which is great. But even that is not enough to really tackle the challenge, ”said Streufert.

“For people who are ready to be back in the workforce, we need to encourage them to do so, but we also need to make efforts to genuinely support these workers and support working families.”

Joe Groves, co-owner of Ellen’s Restaurant, which has locations in the Dallas West End and Allen, says the conversation needs to go beyond accusing people of just taking unemployment.

“For some people, this may be a component where it is easier to endure unemployment than it is to go back to work. I think that’s a political statement, not a statement of reality, ”said Groves. “The reality is that people need to feel safe about what they are doing and that they can take care of their families. If we can do that and make it easier for them, then that is our goal. “

Ellen’s is one of the few restaurants in North Texas that literally stands up to the odds. The owners are already planning to open six more DFW locations and two other concepts in order to increase their workforce to almost 500 employees this year.

You were able to keep every single employee on the team throughout the pandemic. During the shutdown, instead of working in the restaurant, they cooked meals in their kitchen and asked the workers to distribute them to those who needed them.

There was a special focus in South Dallas, and there is still for the restaurant. Ellen partnered with the MLK center and found hundreds of people to feed her weekly. They sent out their servers and buses as a delivery team.

“These really dedicated people have been with us through thick and thin from the start, and we didn’t feel it was right to give them up and hand them over to unemployment,” said Groves. “We are lucky. We understand that this is an unusual skill, but the fact is that we had that skill and made the decision to invest in our team rather than our profits. ”

Right now they offer some pretty competitive wages, including guaranteed earnings of up to $ 20 an hour, paid time off, health benefits, and opportunities for professional growth.

The owners hope they can encourage other restaurant owners to do the same.

“To really think deeply and deeply about the need to ensure that our waiters, our buses, our cooks, our barbacks, our bartenders, our hosts, everyone who works in the restaurant have a decent living. We want them to come out and work for us, and I think it’s only fair that we try our best to make sure they can meet their own personal needs, ”said Groves.

Groves says he’s proud that he and his team made the decision to make their people their most important asset.

The Texas Restaurant Association says it will continue to work with heads of state to rebuild the industry.

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