Restaurants close earlier or close dining rooms
- Restaurants are closing earlier or closing their dining rooms due to labor shortages.
- They say it means they can provide better and faster service and save money on manpower.
- But a cafe owner said some staff actually quit after cutting their hours.
If you’ve eaten at the restaurant recently, you might have noticed it was a little different.
Some restaurants open later and close earlier, while others close their dining rooms completely.
In some places, this is due to the increase in cases of the Delta variant or a lack of ingredients due to supply chain issues. But many restaurants say it’s because of the huge labor shortage.
Independent restaurants and chains, including McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks, have changed their opening hours or switched to take-out only, both because they can’t find enough staff to operate as usual and because labor is becoming more expensive.
Many restaurants Insider spoke to said they had no choice but to reduce hours or close their dining rooms.
Willie Degel, the owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, said his Manhattan West Side restaurant, which was open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week before the pandemic, is now only open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday. The chain’s restaurants in Georgia also operate on “minimum hours,” he added.
“In the restaurant business, you have to control every penny,” Degel said. He based the new hours of operation on restaurant sales and labor costs per hour.
“It’s all numbers,” added Degel. He decided not to close Uncle Jack’s dining rooms because there were mostly sit-down dinners.
Robert Cvetkovski, CEO of Rhumcay Island Grille, a 700-person restaurant in Destin, Fla., Has cut back most of its nighttime entertainment.
“Due to the limited staff, we had to decide on the quality of life of the already overworked team members,” said Cvetkovski. He said he believed eliminating nightlife and nighttime hours would help create a more stable environment.
Robin LaForge, owner of Cheniere Shack in West Monroe, Louisiana, decided to close his restaurant two days a week and close it an hour earlier on other days, after its workforce shrank by about three-quarters.
LaForge said this meant customers got better service and better food, although he said it helped drop revenues by up to 40%.
But changing a business’s hours of operation can actually make it more difficult to find staff. Mirna McCormack, owner of the Korner Cafe in Lewisville, Texas, said some staff quit after changing the closing time from 9 p.m. to 3 p.m. because they could only work evenings.
Most restaurants planned to reduce their opening hours in advance, but some closed randomly after running out of staff. This includes Joey’s Chicken Shack in Pennsylvania, which closed for a day because it was understaffed. A burrito restaurant in Georgia also had to temporarily reduce its hours of operation after all of its staff left.
Some restaurants have temporarily stopped eating in or take out
Bombay Mahal in Brunswick, Maine, has closed its dining hall and switched to take out only.
Owner Raj Sharma told Insider that during the pandemic, the restaurant had many new customers who only ordered take out. Sharma said the new model is working “very well.
Kelly’s Gingernut Pub in Cape Charles, Va., Is one of the few others that has done the opposite by stopping take-out. Co-owner Colleen Kelley said she wanted to prioritize restaurant patrons to make sure service was prompt and the food was of a high standard.
But sometimes the orders were even slower than usual. “You ask [diners] please be patient, but sometimes they forget, “she said.” They get mad, and then you get a bad review. “
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