Local restaurants in desperate need of staff

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
News alert

It’s been said that good help is hard to find, but some local businesses are having difficulty finding any help at all. The restaurant industry in particular is feeling the effects of this employment crunch. All across the city, restaurants have positions open for wait staff, dish washers and cooks, but the applicants to fill these roles are few and far between.

Mita Bates, President and CEO of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce and the Ardmore Development Authority said this issue is not unique to Southern Oklahoma.

“This problem is being experienced not just in Ardmore, not just in Oklahoma, but nationwide,” Bates said. “There is a shortage of workers.”

She said part of the issue stems from the emergency measures put into effect with the CARES Act and other additional subsidies being offered with unemployment benefits and stimulus packages.

“The restaurant and hospitality industry has been particularly hard-hit because typically these jobs have lower wages,” Bates said. “A lot of these workers were laid off when the pandemic hit, and the actions taken to keep people afloat — while very necessary — has in some ways disincentivized people from going back to work.”

Restauranteurs in Carter County also face the challenge of finding workers in an environment with relatively low unemployment. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate for Carter County is current 4.2% down from 5.4% last month. This figure is only .7% higher than the 3.5% unemployment rate from the same month last year, the final month before the pandemic caused unemployment to soar.

Bates said the current emergency unemployment subsidies are set to expire at the end of the summer which might help, and she is hopeful that seasonal staff might be able to fill the void until then.

“Seasonal help from college students working for the summer might be able to provide some temporary relief to get businesses through the summertime,” Bates said. “Once they go back to school the end of the additional unemployment benefits might make it a bit easier for restaurants to find staff.”

In the mean time, many restaurants are taking to their social media pages to get the word out about employment opportunities. Some are even providing additional incentives to those who help find staff.

Earlier this week Ten Star Pizza Kitchen urged their followers to send in people who would like a job. The applicant is to write the name of the person who suggested they apply on the application, and if the candidate is hired, the person who made the suggestion will get free large pizzas. The free large pizzas will continue once a month for up to a year as long as the candidate remains employed at the restaurant.