Hiring pressure increases on San Diego restaurants ahead of state reopening

Posted at 3:33 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 16:09:51-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The pressure is increasing on restaurant owners across San Diego ahead of the June 15 state reopening, many say they are extremely short-staffed.

Maya Kanarek didn't think she'd be the one working the register at Grater Greens in Mission Valley.

After all, she opened the specialty salad place more than a year ago.

“It’s been so hard to get people, to hire new employees,” she said Monday.

Restaurants like hers are competing for front-line workers who are now getting an extra $300 per week in unemployment, which Kanarek believes is keeping them away.

Economists have said workers also remain concerned about COVID, while others have left San Diego, retrained, or are dealing with child-care issues.

“I need people to do prep, I need people to clean,” Kanarek said. “We were just able to open the bathroom, for example, because I didn't have enough staff to clean it.”

Kanarek currently has four workers and wants to add four more. She said she’ll arrange six or seven interviews for a position and nobody will show up.

The pressure is now increasing, because on June 15 many social distancing restrictions lift. That leaves service-sector businesses to worry they'll be overwhelmed with offices potentially filling back up. The county's unemployment rate is now 6.7 percent.

Now, some restaurants, hotels, and casinos are boosting hourly rates or offering cash bonuses to workers who stay a certain amount of time. Kanarek said she can’t afford to offer that. Her employees are now reporting that when she leaves, other restaurant owners come in and try to poach them.

“I’ve invested so much time and love and effort and money into this and it's scary to think that I don't know if I can survive like this,” Kanarek said. "What am going to pay? How am I going to pay those salaries?”