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Local restaurants struggling to fill open positions

Business is picking up and many need additional employees to keep up with demand.
between the bun
Posted at 9:29 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 21:29:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Restaurants and hotels are bouncing back from the pandemic and business is picking up.

Many are seeing an increase in customers as more people become vaccinated, but now they’re facing a new challenge and that's hiring enough people to keep up with demand.

The owner of Between the Bun on Southport Road in Indianapolis, is just one of many restaurants that is hiring right now. Scott Sims said business is booming, but finding new employees has been slow and frustrating.

“We are short-staffed and nobody wants to work, no matter what we try to do it doesn't matter," Sims said. “We use Indeed, we use social media. We’ve started offering sign-on bonuses. We’ve increased our starting rate. We offer bonuses, monthly performance bonuses."

He said that's not enough and positions are still open.

“I would say probably one out of every 15 to 20 people show up for an interview that they actually take the time to set,” Sims added.

And, he's not alone.

The President of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association said all industries are facing this challenge right now, but the hospitality business has been hit especially hard. He’s heard of similar situation at hotels in our area as well. He spoke about one that recently held a job fair.

“They had 20 confirmed interviews off of 110 people participating in the job fair. Going to make offers that day. Out of that those 20 confirmed interviews no one showed. These are jobs $45,000 -$80,000 plus, plus benefits, plus tremendous career paths,” Patrick Tamm, President of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association said.

Tamm said there could be several reasons why the hospitality business is seeing this.

“First and foremost in about a 24-hour period we laid off about 90% of our hospitality industry in the state of Indiana,” Tamm explained, speaking about the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. “There were some dark times. We lost a lot of people, a lot of the quality management positions, people that really led and made a lot of decisions for restaurants as well as hotels have found very good employment in other industries because they've been out of work for a long time."

Enhanced unemployment benefits due to the pandemic could also be playing a role.

“We were the first industry that really beat the drum very hard and very loud to get a lot of additional help to people who did nothing wrong and were all laid off with very little savings and practicality, so we are proud of that achievement, but now that we have the business we’d like to get people back at work,” Tamm said.

“When you're competing with the federal government there's not much you can do,” Sims said. He said applicants may be making more on unemployment benefits than they would if they came back to work.

“If you can make more sitting on your couch I guess why wouldn't you if you have no drive or determination.”

Sims has had to start closing the restaurant one day a week to give his current staff a break. He said he may need to reduce hours even more soon.

“It is going to start impacting not only my bottom line as far as a business owner, but also the bottom line of the people who work for me,” Sims said.

He is hoping that by offering those additional benefits to new hires he will be able to grow his staff, but he thinks that will be limited until changes are made at the state and federal level and people decide to start going back to work.

Between the Bun is hiring for all positions. For more information you can visit their website or Facebook page. The owner is also opening a nearby pizza place and is looking for employees there as well. No experience is needed.

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