Duffy's Bar and Grill in Osseo recently decided to close on Mondays and cut its menu by about 50% due to ongoing staffing shortages.
The restaurant industry, which was one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions and lockdowns, has struggled since reopening to fill open positions.
It's a national problem, with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting earlier this month the restaurant industry is down 1.3 million jobs — a 10% drop from pre-pandemic levels, the National Restaurant Association says.
Quit rates have also grown in the hospitality industry amid the pandemic, which has sparked a wider reassessment in career priorities and wage requirements, as well as safety concerns among workers as the highly-contagious delta variant spreads.
"Due to the extreme labor shortage, we are going have to make a couple very temporary changes to our hours and menu. This is the last thing that we wanted to do," Duffy's said on Facebook last week. "We have amazing people working in our kitchen and it would be unfair to them to continue to ask them to work 6-plus day weeks or 11 days in a row. We love our staff here at Duffy's and want them here for years to come!!"
Duffy's had previously posted about the need to hire a couple of line cooks who could start right away. Duffy's told FOX 9 they're offering $15 or more an hour to start — no experience necessary, but they can't find anyone interested in back-of-the-house positions.
Labor shortages have forced restaurants to get creative to hire and retain staff, stay open, and not overwork the staff they do have.
To keep operating, Duffy's is temporarily closing the kitchen every night at 9 p.m., will be closed on Mondays (something other restaurants have done, too) and has cut the menu by about half (including no soups being available) "until further notice."
"We are hoping that the labor situation will improve after the federal unemployment benefits run out the first week of September and at that time we will be able to hire a full staff," Duffy's said. "Again, this was the absolute last thing we wanted to do and we held on as long as we could. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you all for understanding!"
Extended federal unemployment benefits is a common reason restaurants and other employers cite as causing the labor shortage, though the extent of this is still quite unclear. Other reasons may include people choosing different career paths due to the low wages and reliance on tips, among a myriad of other things.
"There’s been a variety of impacts across the board," Isabelle Guzman, U.S. Small Business Administrator, said, according to FOX 9. "Some restaurants are able to retain their employees and hire employees depending on their specific marketplaces, and others have continued to struggle."