It's been said that it's hard to find good help, and that's certainly true in the restaurant industry. Local restaurant professionals discuss their strategies to stay well-staffed during the busy summer season.
Most restaurants have their share of challenges when it comes to employment and hiring.
Hospitality workers come and go for various reasons throughout the year, which makes it hard for local restaurants to find ways to steadily maintain a high quality staff.
“It’s impossible to have a full staff of good workers” said Dan Empson, Harry T’s Lighthouse’s owner. “We have to hire all year long.”
Empson said he had employees who would quit because the job was just too hard.
“We recently hired a dishwasher for $16 an hour and after three hours he quit because it was too hard,” he said. “In the hospitality industry, there are so many available jobs where people can just leave and get a job in another restaurant.”
Empson said during the summer, about three or four employees can quit in any given day.
Harry T’s has a little over 100 employees with a handful of loyal workers, Empson said.
“That’s why we pay top dollar and try to get quality people to work here,” he said.
Fudpuckers Beachside Bar & Grill’s Co-owner Tim Edwards said every restaurant has different experiences on dealing with employment in the hospitality industry.
“Some people take it as a summer job or decide to change careers,” he said. “If a server is not getting enough traffic, they will look for another job.”
Edwards said for most restaurants in Destin, the business model is to make the most profit during the first 10 weeks of summer. Starting from spring break and into the summer is when his restaurants start to look for more staff.
“In some environments, people can get really stressed and think about quitting. We try to balance that out here,” he said. “When short-staffed, we rely on our core staff to work overtime and that can burn them out.
“But we are not in that situation and we are pretty well staffed. We really are grateful for that,” he added.
Miller's Ale House's Jared Brazill said he always has hiring signs somewhere around the restaurant.
"We are always looking for good people and will never turn away someone who will improve our team for the better." he said.
Brazill, who has about 80 active staff, said starting the hiring process early is key.
"Every year I was short staffed, so I made it my goal not to be short for this year's season," he said.
Brazill started to hire his employees in January and spent the next few months training them.
"By starting early we were beating other restaurants to the punch," he said. "This is the first year we are decently staffed."