DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s one of the busiest times of the year in Volusia County with spring break, Bike Week and other big events going on but dozens of restaurant owners said they’ve either had to close early or reduce capacity because they just don’t have the staff.
“We had 80 people out of 130 came back. The rest of them didn’t,” said Luke Zone, general manager at Crabby Joe’s in Daytona Beach Shores.
Zona said he offered everyone their jobs back but he said most turned it down and were honest about why.
“A lot of them have decided to take that $600 a week and stay home. I know a lot of them have kids at home they want to teach, too, so that’s probably part of it,” he said.
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Volusia county’s unemployment rate is below the national average at 4.7%.
“A lot of us restaurants in town pay a really good wage compared to other restaurants that don’t but still it’s not enough to compete with what the government’s giving away,” said Zona.
Not having enough cooks and other staff, Zona said they’ve removed tables and limited take out hours.
“It made our waiting lines a lot longer and we took away breakfast which we’ve been doing many, many years so we hated to do that,” he said.
Other restaurants have resorted to limiting their hours or closing one or two days a week.
“We usually always have applications on the backside that you can call people if you’ve lost somebody, and we just don’t have that,” said Kim Graham, owner of DJ’s Deck in Port Orange.
Graham said mostly high school and college students work their kitchen and bussing and she’s even asked them to help recruit, too.
“They just said their friends aren’t looking for jobs,” she said.
She added that her restaurant isn’t closing its doors even though it is getting harder to find help.
Most restaurants said they need kitchen staff, bussing and servers.