Some restaurants in EBR wrestle with employee shortage
BATON ROUGE — Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, commemorates the May 5, 1862 victory of the Mexican army as it confronted French soldiers during the Battle of Puebla.
Centuries after the Franco-Mexican War, in 2021, another battle seems on the precipice of ending.
The struggle against an international health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has left many businesses struggling.
Restaurants in Baton Rouge were not immune to the impact of novel coronavirus, and as the state begins to reopen, they're pushing through issues such as staffing shortages and lack of profit due to over a year of capacity restrictions.
Despite these problems, employers like Brian Whitley, the General Manager of Superior Grill, remain hopeful.
Interestingly, Whitley notes that Superior Grill was able to keep 80 percent of its staff throughout the pandemic, and he explained this was due to a flourishing curbside service during the health crisis.
During a recent interview with WBRZ, Whitley praised local government for allowing restaurants to serve food and alcohol to-go throughout the pandemic.
Whitley said, "That's actually been one of the things that's helped us stay afloat through this. To be able to allow people to come get their drinks through the drive-thru and go on their way and have dinner at home while enjoying their margaritas."
Though curbside service proved to be a major asset to the restaurant, management is still looking to hire more employees.
So, the Superior Grill on Highland Road is using a bit of creativity to encourage potential workers to apply; management is offering employees a $100 incentive to bring in new workers.
Superior Grill representatives told WBRZ that both the employee who brings in the new hire and the new hire will receive $100 if the new employee sticks around for at least three months.
Across the nation, other restaurants are using creativity and government assistance to get back on their feet.
The Associated Press noted that thousands of restaurants and bars decimated by the COVID-19 outbreak have a better chance at survival as the government begins handing out $28.6 billion in grants to help these small businesses stay afloat while they wait for customers to return.
The Small Business Administration began accepting applications for grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as of Monday, May 3.
For the first three weeks only applications from restaurants that are majority-owned by women, veterans and “socially and economically disadvantaged” applicants will be processed and paid out, although any restaurant can apply, the Associated Press reports.
After that, grants will be funded in the order that they’ve been approved by the SBA.
The grants, up to a maximum of $10 million, were designed to replace lost revenue at restaurant companies with up to 20 locations. Chians with more than one restaurant can get up to $5 million per location, but each applicant is limited to a total of $10 million in funds.
This grant money, coupled with Paycheck Protection Program loans have helped a number of US businesses survive amid the pandemic.
Click here for more information on government assistance for restaurants.