SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Mikuni restaurants have stood the test of time, but customers were caught by surprise on Monday when they went to some of their nine locations.
“Right when I looked inside, it was like empty. I was like surprised. Kind of sad they’re not open,” said patron Josh Tran.
Mikuni owner Taro Arai is also sad the doors are locked.
“I feel really bad that it’s inconvenient. A lot of people want to have sushi and Monday night football. So I get a lot of emails: ‘Can you move to Tuesday so we can watch football?’” Arai said.
But it all comes down to not having enough workers at eight of their Sacramento locations.
“It has been going on for a while. And then I saw all the general managers washing dishes all night,” Arai said.
He needed to give his hard-working employees a day of rest.
“Overtime, double overtime. I don’t care about paying. But mentally, physically, they’re exhausted,” Arai told FOX40.
Being busy is a good problem to have after the pandemic shutdowns.
“If we have no business, we would never have to worry about a short staffing. So, I want to thank our community for their love and support,” Arai said.
Chef Arai has plenty of company. He said fellow restaurant owners in the area are still having trouble finding workers even as emergency unemployment benefits start to run out.
“Oftentimes there just simply aren’t enough bodies to cover the amount of business that could be walking in the door,” said Emilie Cameron, with Downtown Sacramento Partnership.
Cameron said now is a great time to find a job.
“I think the key here is, fortunately, downtown is still an exciting and vibrant location. There’s still a high level of interest,” Cameron said. “But we need to see more applicants. And whether that be fresh out of high school, little-to-no experience and willing to train or seasoned hospitality sector workers, there really is a job for everyone.”
Cameron said a good place to start is at www.godowntownsac.com/.