Capacity restrictions ease but some bars and restaurants experience labor shortages

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- There are restaurants and bars holding off on increasing capacity not because they want to, but because a predicament is forcing them.

Several places are putting out the same call on social media that they're hiring.

Business owners say there's a labor shortage in the food industry and it's serving up some real problems for restaurants trying to get business back on track.

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"We're trying to open lunch, we can't. We don't have the manpower," said Gonza Tacos owner Gonza Salamanca.

Gonza Tacos is hiring at all five of its locations.

Amber Moshakos, the President of LM Restaurants, whose spots include Carolina Ale House, Vidrio and Taverna Agora, is also working to fill positions.

"I'd say it's frustrating. I'm scratching my mind trying to understand, 'why, why are we struggling?' It's not just us," said Moshakos.

LM Restaurants had to lay off 2,000 employees earlier in the pandemic.

Some owners said they aren't sure why service workers aren't returning.

It comes as COVID-19 restrictions are loosening and capacity numbers are rising.

"I think even if we are at 100 percent, we won't be able to take care of 100 percent," said Salamanca.

"The impact is devastating," said Moshakos. "We want to feed people and take care of people, but we're not able to do so."

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The only up side of this all is that business is really picking up and there's been a steady increase in the last couple weeks.

"It is good. We're very, very happy," said Salamanca.

The owners can only hope the shortage evaporates in the next few months.

"Fingers crossed. I hope so, but I'm not sure what's going to change between now and then," said Moshakos.

The takeaway: Restaurants and bars are struggling to build up the workforce and asking customers for patience as they work through the challenges.

The situation also means that there are jobs for the taking if you're looking for employment.
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