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'No one can find anyone': Business owners say labor pool is shrinking, waiting for new applicants

Businesses like The Bearded Pig say they are hoping to fill open positions, but some job ads haven’t gained any responses.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Restaurants are hiring but are struggling to find workers.

One local restaurant owner says he and many others are looking for people to fill open spots.

National job search company Indeed reports job postings are back to pre-pandemic levels, but one restauranteur is actively seeking new hires.

The Bearded Pig opened its second location in Jacksonville Beach and has seen lines out the door some days.

Servers and kitchen staff remain positive, but co-owner Chad Munsey says the smaller labor pool is something he’s not seen in decades.

“This is not normal for us,” Munsey said.

“It makes me not want to open another restaurant unfortunately. I’ve been in the business of management for 25 years, as an owner for 20 years, and I’ve never seen a lack of applicants like it’s been right now,” Munsey said.

Munsey said he posted ads for jobs on Craigslist ten days ago and hasn’t received any responses.

He says some kitchen managers are working 16-hour days while other employees continue to work overtime.

He says its not just at his restaurant, but many others.

“I’m probably one of about 100 restaurants that I know of that are looking but this extends just beyond restaurants…no one can find anyone,” Munsey said.

Data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity shows the food service and hospitality industry is one of the main sectors that is still trying to bounce back from the pandemic.

Since February 2020, job availabilities have dropped 19% in the food service industry.

According to the Department of Bureau and Labor Statistics, around 6.9 million job openings were posted at the end of January 2021.

However, job search site Indeed reports that job openings have reached pre-pandemic levels.

Ads posted in The Scoop with Jax Restaurant Reviews Facebook group are refreshed monthly.

Munsey is offering $250 signing bonuses to some positions. He wants to relieve his staff working hard to maintain the expected level of quality service.

“I’m working with a kitchen about 70% of max [capacity] and because of our business it’s so busy, the guys are just tired. We’ve closed just one day a week to give everyone a solid day to take off,” Munsey adds.

Munsey hopes customers can understand it may take a bit more time for food to reach tables.

MORE: ‘A mass exodus’: North Florida restaurants, bars feeling extreme impacts of hiring shortages