Lincoln restaurants see more business, having trouble hiring help

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Customers are finally flowing into Lincoln restaurants, which business owners say they’re excited about, but it’s a whole different story when it comes to staffing. They’re the busiest they’ve been in months, and many are lacking the help to handle it.

From Cinco de Mayo to Mother’s Day this weekend, this is a busy stretch for restaurants, and while they’re excited about the business, they know it could be a tough grind.

“We see numbers back up to where they should be,” said George Kazas, co-owner of The Parthenon.

For restaurants, this is a good thing. “For about the last six weeks, we’ve seen the traffic almost double and triple,” said Nathan Sewart, managing partner at Tipsy Tina’s Cantina.

However, for staff, many are starting to get overwhelmed, and in some cases, they’re getting burnt out. “Right now, we have a lot of employees that are working double shifts, working 50 to 60 hours a week,” Sewart said.

In order to keep up with the heavy flow of customers, many restaurants say they need help, and they need it now.

“Could we use a handful of more people? Absolutely. Are they coming in looking for work? No,” Kazas told 10/11.

Some restaurants are even making adjustments to make sure the staff they do have get a break, like Tipsy Tina’s, who won’t be open for Mother’s Day. “We’ve shut down three or four tables inside the restaurant and a couple outside so that my staff doesn’t get overwhelmed serving 7 to 8 tables for one server,” said Sewart.

Other places like The Parthenon say they’ll keep their doors open despite being extremely busy, and their customers are the reasons why.

“Older folks and regulars are coming in and going, ‘Oh my gosh. It’s the first time I’ve been out in a year!’ I’m going, “Oh, this is unbelievable.’ So, yeah. It makes you feel good knowing they’re more comfortable getting back out in the community, supporting the restaurants,” Sewart said.

Restaurant leaders say the tough time finding help is tied to the beginning of the pandemic when so many places were forced to close, people were let go and it forced many into other jobs. Now that restaurants are coming back, not all of their old employees are.

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