Local restaurants struggle with staffing issues

Obviously I am not breaking this story, but somehow I thought our local restaurants were able to make do — there’s such a healthy street life these days. But P. sent this notice he spotted on the door at Gunbae, which can no longer support a seven-day operation due to staffing issues. And I have to assume that it’s harder to keep an employee who works on tips when a restaurant is slower.

When Canal Street Oysters was considering reopening, the tourist and office traffic on Canal was a real issue, but so was staffing. On top of everything else another issue we are running into is it is IMPOSSIBLE to find employees right now,” wrote Tom Martignetti, the CEO of Broome Street Hospitality. “But hopefully these issues will be sorted by September.”

I also checked in with Lynn Wagenknecht at the Odeon.

“Staffing has been a big problem for us, too,” she wrote. “It seems to be a problem nationwide in the restaurant business. Cooks, managers, servers, bussers — pretty much every position is tough to fill (particularly with experience). Just recently we’ve noted a bit of improvement – many people think the generous unemployment [which was extended to Sept. 4] bears at least part of the blame. People made life decisions during the pandemic, too. It’s probably a combo of both.

One solution: paying employees more. Amanda Cohen, who is a partner in Lekka Burger on Warren, told the Guardian that she eliminated tipping and replaced it with a 20 percent surcharge. Still, that does not change things if it’s quiet.

“If the restaurant isn’t busy, it’s even worse,” said Lynn. “Then you’re competing with busy restaurants from an already small pool of applicants.”




  1. Sad situation. Also sad situation going on with customers treating restaurant staff badly with pre pandemic expectations/demands.

  2. “Generous unemployment”? LOL. The maximum regular UI in NY State is $504. Massachusetts is $855. Minnesota is $762, NJ at $713. Montana pays more at $552. NY UI has always been a joke.

    • UI isn’t great, but you leave out part of the story:

      -Regular UI duration extended during the pandemic
      -Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (added on top of regular UI) of $300 per week since December 2020 and $600 per week before that.
      -No federal taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits (if you earned less than $150,000 as an individual in 2020)

  3. Sooooo many headwinds for restaurants in NYC….

  4. Those numbers are incorrect. You are excluding the $300 extra payment from the NY number and including it in the others. NY has one of the highest in the country.

  5. Also, for the restaurants that grew from a dozen tables indoors to
    fifty extra outdoors within months, I imagine staffing could be a problem?

  6. I like Lekka Burger’s approach. I wish all restaurants would do that and I lean towards frequenting those that do. You can always leave more, but it makes up for tourists who sometimes don’t have tipping in their own countries, so don’t do it (I remember as a young waitress getting pocket change from Europeans in the Village when I was young). Once schools are back like Pace and NYU, etc., the staffing issues should ease, though.