San Diego restaurants struggling to hire

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Posted at 4:02 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 21:01:18-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Lilly Saluk was on a recent shift at Chula Vista's El Cruce + 241 when two line cooks walked off the job on their first week.

"We had to be able to go talk to our tables and say, 'excuse me, I'm sorry your food is taking so long,'" she said Thursday.

That is just one example of the frustration restaurant owners and workers are feeling when it comes to staffing up for limited capacity indoor dining in the red tier.

El Cruce + 241 owner Collin Corrigan said he made a couple of good hires recently, but also has been dealing with applicants ghosting him for interviews or accepting offers and not showing because they got a better one.

Restaurant owners also attribute the shortage of workers to those that have left town or retrained.

This, all happening at a time of 8.1 percent unemployment and 40,000 fewer restaurant jobs in the county.

"All of us restaurants right now, we're really, really struggling, finding people," said Dario Gallo, who owns Civico restaurants in Bankers Hill and Little Italy.

Gallo said he wants to hire 10 more people for each location, but says workers, especially in the back of the house, don't want the jobs. He's bumped up his hourly pay, with the help of PPP money.

"I'm super happy that President Biden was able to release this stimulus right now, but I think it's causing at the same time that jobs like dishwashers, like busboys, they're minimum, minimum wage, and they're not really tipped out well," Gallo said.

Qualified workers recently began receiving up to $1,400 in stimulus payments, and the EDD is tacking on another $300 per week on unemployment checks.

But Saluk noted the threat of Coronavirus persists.

"Because we're food service workers, we've been at the most risk since the beginning, and it hasn't really stopped," she said.

She'd like to see workers give her team at El Cruce + 241 a chance.