Restaurants in SWFL hit hard by worker shortage, plead for patience

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo
Published: Updated:

The worker shortage across Southwest Florida is impacting one particular industry more than others – restaurants.

The lack of workers means longer waits for customers when dining out, all while they’re seeing more customers now than ever.

Firehouse Subs, for example, is looking to hire 50 employees.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s said they need anyone who is ready to work as they’re hiring for 20 positions.

Tamara Berry, general manager at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s said, “Servers cooks, bartenders, just, we are hiring for a couple more hosts. This is just really everywhere. 

And it’s the same story at Firehouse Subs, where Fort Myers franchise owner Dan Redolphy says, “All positions, all shifts, all days, all experience, starting with, maybe the high school student that is looking for their first job. “

A couple of years ago lots of companies shied away from hiring younger people, considering them too temporary and having lots of schedule conflicts.

Now if teenagers want to work, they will find work because adults have so many options.

“A couple of weeks ago,” Berry explained. “I had set up for seven interviews on a Monday, I called Sunday night, and I set them all up confirmed and sat here. And no one showed up.”

Redolphy added, “When you have less manpower and fewer people in the restaurants working, they’re absorbing more tasks and wearing more hats. We have run into issues where we’ve had to close restaurants early because we just don’t have the sufficient staff to provide the level of service that our customers and our guests deserve.”

At Career Source Southwest Florida, they have more than a thousand positions open in food preparation and serving in Lee County alone.

The message from restaurants and sandwich shops is patience, as Redolphy pleads, “Patience, that’s all I ask.”

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