Sacramento restaurants face staffing struggles upon reopening

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Restaurants are open for outdoor and indoor dining, but that doesn’t mean they’re fully staffed.

“I’m at 37 employees right now. And I could really stand to be back to my normal 45,” said business owner Aziz Bellarbi-Salah.

Bellarbi-Salah operates three Sacramento businesses.

“The Grand Wine and Cocktails, at Aioli La Bodega Espanola, and at Brasserie Capitale,” he told FOX40.

He says restaurant owners all over the city are having a hard time finding experienced people to fill the shifts.

“We’re doing it when we really could use two or three hands every single night more than we have,” Bellarbi-Salah said.

This trend is confirmed by Roy Kim, deputy director of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency.

“Employers are reporting increasing difficulty finding qualified talent. And there are a number of factors for that,” Kim said.

Many of the workers who lost jobs because of COVID-19 shutdowns are now receiving extended unemployment benefits as well as the federal stimulus money.

Kim says that is a large reason many are choosing not to return to the workforce at this time.

“If you look at other downturns in other cycles, there is a tendency, on average, for people to wait toward the expiration of those unemployment benefits before returning to work,” he explained.

There may also be a reluctance to work in the restaurant industry for health reasons as the work puts you in contact with people, but the vaccines are making a difference.

“About half of us have had our second shot. So we’re really rolling along with that in our industry,” Bellarbi-Salah told FOX40.

Bottom line: there is work available now.

No experience? No problem.

Some restaurants are willing to train from the ground up.

“We’ve become somewhat of an academy where we will continue training. And that helps too because it makes the guys who have been with us longer,” Bellarbi-Salah explained. “We’re always stronger when we’re teaching.”

“You can email your resume to me at Aziz@brasseriecapitale.com and I’ll probably get back to you quite quickly,” he continued.

“Employers are kind of drawing from the same well, so to speak. And the way you attract talent is you offer more incentives, better benefits or other perks like remote work or other things that many other employers can’t offer,” Kim said. “And you try and use that as best you can to attract the talent that you need.”

“We’re all out there paying competitive rates at the moment and it’s higher than it’s ever been,” Bellarbi-Salah said.

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