Increasing customer demands wear down restaurant owners, staff

Port Orange restaurant closes for #TimeoutTuesday to give staff a break

PORT ORANGE, Fla. – Staff shortages have restaurant owners pleading for patience and understanding with slower service.

The job website JobList recently released the findings from a poll that showed a third of hospitality workers won’t return to the industry.

“It has become an overwhelming challenge to navigate daily,” said Angelina Stickhouser, who owns Alberto’s Pizza in Port Orange with her husband.

She said the service industry has become an even more stressful work environment since the pandemic.

“We just decided to have a time out on Tuesdays and close down on Tuesdays,” she said.

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The family took to its Facebook page to announce the Tuesday closures and called it #TimeoutTuesday. Other restaurant owners in the area posted that they’re looking to close more often, too.

Strickhouser, who has two young sons at home, said the issues with staffing have been affecting more than just their work-life.

“We are sitting at the dinner table and get no call, no shows and both of us are getting up and coming to work and it’s every single day,” she said.

Restaurant owners have said they raised wages, offered benefits and even had signing bonuses just to try and keep staff but many still struggle still.

“We need positions in the front of the house and the back of the house but we’ll hire people and then they’ll work a couple of days and then they’ll quit. And then we’ll have like ten interviews set up and maybe one shows,” Strickhouser said.

Strickhouser said the staffing shortage is just one piece of the stress that’s been weighing on their family. Product shortages and now inflation are hitting, too.

“We’re not getting the same ingredients that we used to get. Even this morning, the food supplier said there’s no trucks coming in and if we want it we have to go to Sanford to get it,” she said.

It’s leaving many restaurants in a tough situation financially.

“I’ve seen some restaurants have to take things like chicken wings off their menu and people are upset about that but again it’s because of cost,” said Tricia Phillipi.

Phillipi runs a Volusia County restaurant review group on Facebook with over 19,000 followers. She meets with restaurant owners and staff almost daily.

“If they leave it on their menu and raise the price then customers are going to be complaining about the price which they have no control over,” she said about the inflation.

Phillipi said restaurant owners are reporting more complaints from customers. She said some customers are even losing patience quickly with their staff causing a lot to quit.

“I’ve heard customers complaining because they can see five or six tables open, why is there an hour and a half, two-hour wait? And it’s simply just because there’s not enough staff,” she said.

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About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.