For some Jacksonville restaurants, demand for service growing faster than ability to hire new employees

Now hiring: That’s what many restaurant owners throughout Jacksonville are advertising because they need help.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now hiring: That’s what many restaurant owners throughout Jacksonville are advertising because they need help.

But some owners say that despite the need to hire new employees, it doesn’t appear many people are filling out applications.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, some restaurants had to lay off employees because COVID-19 restrictions made it hard to rely on eat-in customers. But now that things are slowly getting back to normal, the demand for service is growing faster than the ability to hire new employees.

At Burrito Gallery in downtown Jacksonville, business has started to pick up now that more people are getting vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions have eased up. Jennifer Lee, the restaurant’s general manager, is currently wearing many hats in her position because she has a limited staff.

“We definitely need two to four more employees. That would help us out,” Lee told News4Jax.

Lee says she and her limited staff need the help because the demand for service has returned to what it was prior to the pandemic. But despite advertising available jobs, it has been hard to hire people, Lee says.

“A lot of has to do with the fact that people aren’t even applying at this point. We have not been able to get people who actually want to work and care to work,” Lee said.

Burrito Gallery is not the only restaurant experiencing this problem. News4Jax has received similar complaints from other Jacksonville-area restaurants that are also struggling to hire help. Restaurant owners who News4Jax spoke with say they believe the reason why it’s hard to get people to apply for jobs, despite the high unemployment numbers, is because people are making more money from weekly COVID-19 unemployment checks. And recently, many people received stimulus checks up to $1,400.

“The unemployment has definitely restricted people from coming back to work. The stimulus check has definitely delayed them coming back to work,” Lee said.

In the meantime, Lee says she and her small staff will continue to work longer hours until she can hire new employees.

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