Restaurants still struggle getting workers despite unemployment benefits ending

Local News

(WKBN) – You’ve seen the help wanted signs everywhere, and First News has told you about countless businesses who need workers. Starting Saturday, the extra $300 federal unemployment benefits end in Ohio. It might mean people will head back to work, but they haven’t started applying just yet.

Even though they’re allowed to be open, many restaurants have their chairs up and closed during lunch hour or on certain weekdays.

“It’s not because they don’t wanna come eat. They’re coming out in abundance,” said Mark Canzonetta, owner of Bistro 1907 in Youngstown.

“We’ve been probably double the busier after COVID than before COVID,” said Rina Saad, manager at Zenobia in Canfield.

It’s because restaurants still can’t find the staff to work the shifts.

A lot of people who were unemployed during pandemic closures never came back.

“Unfortunately, every time I reach somebody, everybody’s mentioning unemployment and how they’re making money,” Saad said.

Some restaurants have offered bonuses or higher wages, but it isn’t competing with the unemployment supplement.

“It’s been hindering us quite a bit, especially with the timeline. I know the governor made a bold decision to end it this next coming week and that’s great. I wish he would’ve ended it a week sooner,” Canzonetta said.

The money stops Saturday, but owners say applications are still scarce.

“I would have to say we need 15 to 20 staff members in all sorts of whether it’s kitchen, whether it’s banquet, whether it’s bartending,” Canzonetta said.

Those who are working say they’re making great money because it is so busy, but they’re hoping for more staff so they get a bit of a break.

“It’s very tiring. Sometimes we feel bad because we can’t give the best service because we’re so busy and we have only a couple of workers,” said Essence Steele, who is a bartender and server at Zenobia.

“I hope that the people that got the extra money were smart with the money, and if they weren’t smart with the money, it’s time to come back to work,” Canzonetta said.

Both places are taking applications. Summer is their busy season, and for Bistro with the amphitheater starting concerts, they want to be able to open on those days when events are held.

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