Staffing shortages pose new challenge for Lexington restaurants struggling through pandemic

Local

Doors are unlocked and socially distanced tables are full again as Lexington’s hospitality industry seems to be bouncing back from the harsh restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A year ago, we were really unsure day to day and now we can start to predict behavior,” Corto Lima Director of Marketing and Events Brie Lowry Cox said. “There’s a lot more people, a lot more guests, there’s a lot more to do downtown in general, so we are all benefitting from that.”

But, restaurant and bar owners aren’t out of the woods just yet as many are now facing a staffing shortage.

“It is an issue for 90 percent of the restaurants in town,” Cox said.

‘We’re hiring’ signs are becoming as common as ‘we’re open’ ones.

At J. Render’s Southern Table and Bar, they’re so short staffed they decided to temporarily close every Sunday until further notice.

In a Facebook post, the restaurant said some staff members have been working 7 days a week. So until they can fill in some holes, the restaurant will be closed on Sundays.

Corto Lima in downtown Lexington has changed its hours of operation too, temporarily closing every Monday. But, it’s also expanding hours on the weekend. For Corto Lima, it’s not an issue of having enough employees but having enough customers.

“There’s not as much traffic downtown on Monday and Tuesday as there is the rest of the week,” Cox said.

People in the hospitality industry can agree we’re moving in the right direction, but we’ve still got a way to go to get back to normal.

“It’s absolutely a process,” Cox said. “It’s a process for staffing, it’s a process for guest count, it’s a process for the kitchen staff, so it’s kind of this incremental build.”

If you are looking for a job in the food industry, you can apply by contacting the restaurants directly through their websites or social media pages.

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