Restaurant GM: “We don’t want to be the next place that needs to close down, even for one day of the week.”

Worker shortage continues in Wisconsin despite business boom
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:21 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Business is booming for some restaurants in Wisconsin, but many of them are struggling to keep up with the demand due to the persistent worker shortage.

The General Manager of Margarita’s of Green Bay, Sid Boehm, was busy Monday morning after employees called in and he had to cover their shifts. He only had three minutes to tell Action 2 News how his restaurant, and many others, are handling the staff shortage.

“It’s always great to be busy, but you still have to have the staff to handle it,” he said. “We’re facing shortages and everything, for every position. It’s a day-to-day constant battle to find new people and to retain the new help that we’re hiring.”

He compared the situation to a “Catch 22″. “It’s a circle that’s hard to get ahead of,” he said.

His business is not alone.

“We know that, in our last survey, 83% of restaurant operators said they had positions they needed to fill--both in the front and in the back of the house,” said the Executive Vice President of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Susan Quam. “We know that we also lost at least 10% of restaurants in the state that have closed permanently.”

Quam said other factors such as an increase in food costs and supplies and a demand for higher wages are hurting restaurants as well.

“We are really going backwards in our recovery as an industry. What we’re afraid of is come January, February, March--where it’s traditionally the slowest months for restaurants in Wisconsin--that we are going to start seeing more permanent restaurant closures,” said Quam.

She explained many people found other jobs outside the restaurant industry, and even restaurants have to compete against each other to bring in help.

“The more restaurants that close, the more pressure there is on the restaurants that stay open. Some are closing permanently and some are closing for a couple a days a week,” said Boehm. “We don’t want to be the next place that needs to close down, even for one day of the week.”

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