Hampton Roads businesses scramble to find employees two weeks before Virginia reopens

Local News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Panic, not excitement, has set in for some businesses across Hampton Roads as they scramble to fill many open positions two weeks before the state fully reopens.

For the Azalea Inn and Time Out Sports Bar in Norfolk, the rollback of coronavirus restrictions doesn’t mean much to them when they don’t have enough employees on staff to serve more customers.

General Manager Christy Sioredas has worked at the restaurant for over 20 years and says now it’s the hardest it’s ever been.

“Now that they’re getting better, we couldn’t wait for them to get better,” she said. “But now that we’re going to be able to have all the restrictions lifted, we cannot even open up full capacity.”

Currently, the restaurant is operating with about 14 employees instead of the usual 48 employees.

This lack of workers in the kitchen has also caused their delivery and pickup services to take a hit.

“We do have Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, and Postmates, which a lot of people still use and are used to using,” she said. “So now, on a particular night, for any night, busy night, we need to turn them off.”

Managers say they can’t compete with what some people make from unemployment and their stimulus checks.

Line Cook Anthony Artybridge says they really need the help now and that these jobs will still be open once the unemployment benefits run out.

“My dad gave me the power of drive and I like to actually work for a living,” he said. “There’s just some things you can’t just take. And eventually, like now, that’s going to run out and everyone’s going to just be sitting at home looking dumb.”

Most employees now take double shifts and work more consecutive days in a week to help keep the restaurant afloat.

Co-owner Heather Karangelen says she’s worried about how long their employees can keep up the work at their current pace before Virginia fully reopens in two weeks and they see more customers.

“How can we resolve this problem? How can we, you know, make an impact on this terrible situation,” she said. “And it’s coming up to holidays, Memorial Day, and we are squirming to find help.”

Aside from job applications, the biggest thing they ask for is patience from their customers.

They’re just afraid of having to close down like some other businesses have had to because of hiring struggles.

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