There’s a drought of job applicants in the local food and beverage industry. Many servers and kitchen staff have opted to hang up their aprons, and business owners are struggling.
“I have to cover all positions," said Gian Carlo Accinelli, owner of Mr. & Mrs. Bun in Miami. "I am the pizza guy today, for example. I was bus boy yesterday, and I will be bus boy tomorrow."
Bill Zayas is visiting from Orlando and says he saw a similar staffing issue at the hotel where he is staying.
“People maybe can make more money right collecting unemployment versus working," Zayas said. "It’s a very short-term point of view, but that’s what some of the thinking seems to be."
According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, although nearly every state added restaurant jobs, employment levels remained below pre-pandemic readings. Florida has seen a -12% difference since the beginning of COVID-19.
“It’s impossible to have good service with one server, with 22 people wanting lunch at the same time,” Accinelli said.
Tuesday afternoon the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the Work Search & Work Registration waivers through May 29. This means people receiving unemployment benefits don’t have to prove they are looking for work.
The waiver was issued at the start of the pandemic after residents said there were too many roadblocks to access benefits.