Restaurant workers haven’t returned to the sector in the numbers that business owners hoped to see years after pandemic lockdowns. By 2021, many restaurant owners struggled to fill cook, line cook, server, bartender and manager positions. And though the number of foodservice job openings and job seekers are beginning to near equilibrium, wage hikes and turnover are still squeezing operators.
Inflation is driving up food costs and salaries, so restaurant owners are increasing menu prices to offset that overhead spending. But sticker shock is hurting restaurant customer counts, said Tony DiSilvestro, a Virginia Beach, Virginia-based business coach and restaurant owner.