Illinois restaurants owners in need of workers: ‘Hard to compete with’ unemployment benefits

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As COVID-19 restrictions roll back, restaurant owners are facing an issue of finding employees. We caught up with a local restaurant that has run into this problem, saying they’ve even had to shift their hours because of it.

“Two weeks ago was our best week yet and by like a lot. So when our patio, our Biergarten does open, there’s going to be quite a demand,” said John Clark, the general manager of Rathskeller.

Clark says while business has increased, one problem is holding them back.

“The problem that we are facing now and has caused us to pivot again is staffing. We are just not getting applicants,” he said. “At this point, we have zero applications on three to four different media’s that we’re trying to push out for applications.”

The lack of staff has resulted in the restaurant making some major changes, including reducing their hours.

“Unfortunately, that’s why you’ve seen our breakfast and lunch menu go away for the next couple of weeks because we can’t guarantee that we can prep every item and have the quality…that we know we can deliver,” said Clark.

Clark says many area area restaurants are going through this problem.

“I’ve seen other restaurant owners post that they had 12 interviews and only two showed up, out of those twelve. I think obviously unemployment and unemployment benefits extension is going to help people stay home during this tough time,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it’s hard to compete with that when they are going to make less going to work.”

Clark says the staff of five is making it work, but they can always use an extra set of hands.

“If we can get through this we can get through anything and that’s very much real I don’t know what 2021-2022 will bring, but I imagine you would have to work pretty hard to find it worse,” concluded Clark.

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