Holiday season

Labor shortage puts restaurant businesses at a standstill during the holiday season: “Where is this going to end?” “

We’ve been hearing about it for months. Business leaders are struggling to find workers.

The labor shortage is now putting restaurant businesses at a standstill during the peak holiday season.

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Dean Pigeon, co-owner of Pigeon Catering in New Orleans, says he has enough staff to prepare food for the events. But when they get to events, they never know how many gig workers, such as waiters, dishwashers, and bus boys, are going to show up.

Many catering companies have enough staff to prepare food for events, but it’s the workers they rely on to host the events that are hard to find.

“We don’t know until we get there and people don’t show up,” Pigeon said. “Then we do our best to adapt.”

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Pigeon’s sales and marketing manager, Leah Berhaneo, says 30% of workers hired for events often don’t show up.

“Management then needs to step up,” Berhaneo said. “If a sculptor doesn’t show up, someone has to put on a chef’s jacket and go out and sculpt for the night. Or if a dishwasher is missing, I can’t tell you how many times an owner must have become a dishwasher themselves. ”

Berhaneo and Pigeon have years in the business and have never seen such a struggle for workers.

The hospitality industry has the highest quit rate in the country.

“We’re going to be ordering 30 dishwashers, waiters and bartenders, hoping to have 20 and we could have 15,” Pigeon said. “It’s a long, drawn-out fight. It’s like where everyone went?”

Those in the industry say many concert workers have started driving for food delivery services during the pandemic. Many have found it to be an easier way to make money than working for a large catering event.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the hospitality industry has the highest dropout rate in the country (5.6%). The latest figures show that more than 893,000 workers left in October.

“We try to avoid this burnout as much as possible,” Berhaneo said. “But without more people, our full-time staff, they work 16 to 20 hours a day, four to five days a week.”

The busy schedule is a welcome change for many catering businesses after last year’s holiday season when many events were canceled.

Many catering businesses are fully booked with events for the first time since the pandemic.

“Last January, we were just standing in this kitchen,” Pigeon said. “We didn’t have a single event during the whole month of January.”

Since October, Pigeon traiteur has worked over 100 weddings and has a busy program until Christmas.

However, Pigeon is concerned that the industry may not be able to keep up any longer.

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“Where is this going to end? Pigeon asked. “When the city comes back full time and every hotel has events, the convention center rolls around; I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”


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