Now hiring: Kentucky restaurants struggle to fill open positions

Posted at 3:21 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 19:12:56-04

SLADE, Ky. (LEX 18) — As vaccinations increase and pandemic restrictions continue to relax, restaurants are desperate to hire staff but are struggling to fill open positions.

The Kentucky Restaurant Association said this issue persists statewide.

"Pretty much 100% of restaurant employers are looking to fill positions," KRA CEO and President Stacy Roof said.

One of those employers is Thatcher's BBQ Company. Owner Shawn Thatcher said he has numerous open positions. Therefore, he schedules interviews with candidates, but he said they do not show up.

The problems don't end there.

"I bet you we've hired 10 people," Thatcher said. "And then they just don't come to work, don't show up."

His second location in Jackson is so understaffed that it may not be able to stay open much longer.

"Really months, weeks if we don't find people who are going to stick around, stay there," he estimated.

Roof said there are several potential reasons for the workforce shortage.

One is, maybe people are taking jobs in other industries.

"Every time a new thing was announced it always involved us," Roof said. "You're open you're closed. You're open. You're restricted more. So the back and forth forced some people to go other places to look for jobs."

She also believes that some people are likely getting enough money through unemployment and stimulus payments that they don't necessarily need to work. Another potential reason is that parents need to stay home with their kids who are learning virtually.

"I think some folks still don't have childcare or have kids that are still at home going to school," she added.

Despite the reason, Roof is asking the public for patience when they visit restaurants that are understaffed.

"Trust me," she said. "The last thing they want to do is aggravate you or make you wait longer than you have to. They want to provide that high level of service that we're accustomed to, so just give them a little patience and let them know you appreciate what they're doing. They're working really hard trying to make us all happy."