Restaurant owners ask governor for help hiring, offer signing bonuses

Employers claim people are scheduling interviews just to claim unemployment

FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. – A restaurant owner in Flagler Beach recently wrote a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis. In it, the owner said business owners need help before more restaurants have to close down because they don’t have enough people to work.

John Lulgjuraj, owner of Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill, said right now he only has a quarter to half of the staff he needs to fully run.

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“We’ve been open through all of the different hurricanes, we’ve always been here for the community and our job is to never shut down,” he said.

Lulgjuraj said dozens of people have applied and scheduled interviews. Managers came in on days off to conduct the interview but about 80% of the applicants never showed up.

“We found out that people must be actively searching for work to get their unemployment,” he said.

He said they have even increased pay for several positions as much as they can. He wrote to DeSantis asking for help to find solutions.

“A lot of the suggestions have been ‘well, just pay people higher’ and I go, ‘well, how do we do that?’ Well, ultimately it comes down to raising prices. If that’s what we need to do, we will do that,” he said.

Many restaurants are even closing their doors.

“We definitely are looking at closing a day, maybe two days just because we don’t have enough staff,” Virgil Morar said.

Morar manages Monterey Grill and Malibu Beach Grill in Port Orange. He’s now offering signing bonuses and bonuses to current employees who help bring on new staff.

“I thought that it was a great idea to offer $150 to any employee that stays for more than 30 days,” Morar said.

The restaurant owners suggest, in the meantime, looking at restaurants’ Facebook pages to find out when they’re open.

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