Understaffed restaurants, culpable price and wage hikes

Lake Street Local in Port Austin is just one of many restaurants in Huron County, and the country as a whole, that is struggling with an employee shortage that has become an industry-wide problem. industry.

Owner Ryan Detrick not only had to fill eight different positions himself, but also enlist the help of his mother and sister to fill in some of the job gaps. Now that the summer is drawing to a close, he will also lose his college employees who will return to school in the fall.

The biggest problem is money, according to Detrick. The relationship between food prices and restaurant employee payment is a domino effect, where the price of one affects the price of the other.

Previously, local restaurants could pay their employees $10 to $14 an hour, more than the big chains. However, company restaurants like McDonalds are now paying their employees between $16 and $17 an hour, forcing local establishments to match them.

There is also the question of qualifications; people need to be qualified to work as scullery cooks and get a higher salary, but corporate chain employees don’t need qualifications to work in a deep fryer and get paid $15 an hour at the beginning.

“Now we’re competing not just with the other restaurants in the area, but with the brands with an infinite amount of money,” Detrick said.

He’s seen this same problem with other restaurants, like at a friend’s in Greektown, Detroit, where they had to start paying their cooks $24 an hour instead of the $12 to $13 they were making at home. ‘origin.

This wage increase becomes particularly problematic with rising food and commodity prices, which are forcing restaurants to increase their menu prices. Combined with the shortage of employees, restaurants are forced to pay more for less.

The shortage has had a negative effect on the employees themselves, according to Detrick. They had to work multiple shifts to fill the gaps for more hours than a normal work week, which exhausts them. This is a problem, because it could lead to a drop in service quality, which could earn them more grief from less understanding customers. Detrick said he had a new waitress down in their first week of summer because of a particularly naughty customer.

Restaurants have a lot of seats to maintain and few staff to take care of them. The cooks in the kitchen are few, but a little understanding can go a long way to making a tough job a little easier to bear.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement