VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Restaurant owners like Brady Viccellio find themselves stepping in to fill all kinds of positions lately: waiting tables, washing dishes, cooking the food.
Viccellio co-owns La Bella Italia Laskin and Steinhilbers restaurants in Virginia Beach with his mother, Jeanne.
As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and restrictions loosen, many are opting to dine out. With demand growing, restaurant owners say they’re facing a hiring shortage.
According to Viccellio, the number of applicants isn’t the issue.
“I’ve scheduled over 100 interviews in a week,” said Viccellio. “For every 10 interviews scheduled, I’m stood up for nine of them. And the 10th, let’s say they’re hired, it’s 50/50 if they show up for work.”
The staffing shortage is plaguing restaurants around the country.
Taste’s Oceanfront location shut down twice in April alone. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, they didn’t have enough staff to open.
Viccellio estimates La Bella Italia Laskin loses about 10% of business due to short-staffing, his other restaurant Steinhilbers loses 40%.
So why aren’t people coming back to work?
Viccellio and other owners point to unemployment benefits.
“They can make more at home than they can at work,” said Viccellio. “I’ve had people tell me that, yes. Why would I come into work when I make more not coming into work?”
On the other side of the argument, people say restaurant staff isn’t returning because they aren’t making as much in tips as they did pre-pandemic.
“I don’t understand that argument,” Viccellio said. “Because what tips are they not making? We’re busy. People are coming out. Their average income per hour is the same or above.”
For now to keep the doors open, owners like Viccellio will continue to step in washing dishes, waiting tables and cooking.