Many of Somerset County's restaurants are being forced to close - or close early - because they can't find enough workers. Other restaurants have found ways to keep their employees.
Restaurant employees wanted
Fox's Pizza in Somerset announced last month that its location would be closing. The restaurant's Facebook page cited staff shortages, rising prices and product issues as the main reasons for the closure.
"It comes with a heavy sadness that we are saying this but today is our last day open," the Dec. 23 post stated.
"With Staff shortages, rising prices, and product issues it has become (too) difficult stay operational. Our surrounding locations will still be able to provide for those of you that wish to receive our product. In the mean time have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and keep your eyes open for something new coming to the location."
A few days later, on Dec. 27, the Facebook page changed its name to "Somerset Skill Games" and announced the pizza restaurant would now be a small games of chance location.
Also in Somerset, signs outside of Taco Bell state that the location is sometimes closed because of staffing shortages. The fast-food chain opened at this site less than a year ago.
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In Rockwood, Rock City Cafe is experiencing a staff shortage as well. Owner Stacey Coleman said that the small business is getting by with the help of family.
"We have put many (ads) out looking for kitchen help with no response," she said in a written response to the Daily American.
"We are looking to hire at least one part time kitchen help at the moment and to apply you just need to stop in at Rock City and fill out an application. Our pay rate is discussed during the interview depending on experience."
The cafe sells wings, pizza, fries and other foods from their location along Main Street in Rockwood. They also offer live entertainment some nights.
"I think small businesses have been given a hard task when it comes to keeping employees," Coleman said. "At one time it was nice to work for a family owned company but now bigger companies are able to pay more for employees which makes the smaller business struggle.
"As for Rock City we do our best to take care of our employees in anyway that we can and as best as we can in the circumstances we have been given."
The Great Resignation
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of workers leaving their jobs hit an all-time high in November. The number of workers quitting jumped from 4.2 million to 4.5 million in October.
The industries hit hardest included restaurants, hotels, health services and trades.
Employers posted 10.6 million job openings. Still, nationwide there were 6.9 million unemployed Americans in November, which left 1.5 jobs for each unemployed person.
The trend of people quitting jobs amid the pandemic has become known as "The Great Resignation," a term coined by Texas A&M University professor and psychologist Anthony Klotz.
How are restaurants keeping their staff?
At Tailgatez in Somerset, manager Tony Latuch said that the popular bar/restaurant has been able to keep their 57 employees.
"We've been holding on pretty good," he said. "We have good employees now.
"Early on in the year (2021), yeah it was difficult. We increased pays and people are doing good."
He declined to say how much Tailgatez pays.
"We work with them and gave out small Christmas bonuses," Latuch said. "We try to treat them good. We know how important they are.
"I think we haven't had much turnover lately. Early in 2021 there was quite a bit, but with COVID it's understandable."
He said chefs are important to keep because they are hard to replace.
"People can apply, but I think we have everyone we need for the kitchen," he said. "That's the main thing. That's where we can't afford turnover. Right now it's good."
"We have good employees and we're happy to have them."
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This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Restaurants close staffing shortage in Somerset County