Tampa Bay restaurants struggling to find workers, new legislation proposed to help hospitality industry

Pinellas County

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – There are plenty of customers, but not enough employees!

It’s a struggle many restaurants across Tampa Bay are facing. Multiple restaurant owners tell 8 On Your Side as businesses recover from the pandemic, they’re now having to turn away business due to staffing issues.

Pizza restaurant Slyce on Indian Rocks Beach says they’re having so much trouble getting people to work they’re even offering a hiring incentive of $450 in gift cards.

It’s a similar story across the Tampa Bay area, The Lure in St. Petersburg went as far as posting a sign on social media that reads, “Due to staff shortages we will be closed on Mondays”.

Staffing issues at both Slyce shops on Madeira Beach and Indian Rocks Beach are not only temporarily causing them to close on Monday but impacting Slyce’s future business by not allowing them to open a third restaraunt on St. Pete beach.

“We think due to the pandemic some people got out of hospitality, then with unemployment, they continue to get those payments every week which is great for them but we need something to drive them back,” said Slyce Co-owner Suzanne Brown.

“It’s enjoyable it’s fun, but the stressful things with lack of staff are…you just gird your loins, get out there and do it, that’s what you do,” said Slyce manager Margo Carson.

Carson has worked at Slyce for seven years and loves it, she said it’s a fun atmosphere where you are valued and treated like family. Carson said right now she is one of many employees juggling multiple positions, looking to hire help.

“We’re here, were available!” she said hoping people apply soon.

Restaurants aren’t the only ones going through a tough time. The entire hospitality industry has taken a hit, including hotels and other tourism-related services. 

On Wednesday a new bill was introduced to save part of the hospitality industry, specifically hotels throughout the country.

“There are millions of people who have spent their lives serving others, now it’s our turn to serve them in their time of need,” said American Hotel & Lodging Association’s President and CEO Chip Rogers on Wednesday’s virtual press conference.

The ‘Save Hotel Jobs Act‘ is a bill, introduced by Florida Rep. Charlie Crist and a senator in Hawaii.

“The introduction of this critical legislation comes at a time when the hotel industry has lost 10 years of job growth, is shuttering doors, and losing employees for good. Leisure and hospitality “Every day, hotels are closing for good, and hardworking, loyal employees are sadly being let go,” said Rogers. “No industry has been more affected by the pandemic than hospitality. Government-issued travel bans and restrictions, which are meant to slow the spread of the virus, have wiped out 10 years of job growth in our industry. Now, millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are at risk—not just hotels, but the many businesses and workers hotels also support in the community. Congress must step up now to support the hotel industry workforce with targeted relief.”

American Hotel & Lodging Association
President and CEO Chip Rogers

Restaurants hoping they can get a cut of the pie.

“Any help the hospitality industry can get would be great, any help. I think the biggest thing now is…how do we drive people back to work?” Brown said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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