Staff shortages may slow economic recovery for restaurants, hotels

Hotels and restaurants are getting ready for a big rush this Memorial Day weekend and this summer. But their revenues may not be as much as they hoped.


An influx of travelers are arriving in the Galveston region already, dining in restaurants and checking into hotels.

But the struggle to fill hospitality jobs may mean these businesses can't serve as many customers as usual, which could slow their economic recovery from last year's shutdown.

"Business for Memorial Day weekend looks to be very busy," said Dennis Byrd, owner of The Spot restaurant and two hotels in Galveston.  

But restaurants, hotels, and tourism venues are asking for your patience.  

"In my hotels, we're a little overwhelmed sometimes due to staffing issues. We're kind of short-staffed," said Willis Gandhi, President of the Galveston Hotel and Lodging Association and owner of four Galveston area hotels.  

Business owners say they've struggled to fill jobs while unemployed workers have been collecting an additional $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance, or moved on to other jobs.    

"Which is resulting in self-imposed limits in seating capacity. That way we can prepare meals in a timely manner and serve our guests to the standards they expect," said Byrd.

Even though Texas allows businesses to be 100% open, many can't serve 100% of their usual volume of guests.

"We're hearing from restaurants across the state who have had to limit service. They've removed service times, including lunch or making dinner service shorter," said Anna Tauzin with the Texas Restaurant Association.

"We have had to cut back a lot of Saturdays. We couldn't sell all of our rooms, we had to block them out because we couldn't get housekeepers to clean them," added Gandhi. "It affects it big time. All we can do is keep looking forward and hope things change soon."

To attract workers, many businesses are increasing wages.

"It was something that was already in a plan, but we're accelerating that plan," said Byrd.

Governor Abbott is ending the federal unemployment assistance early on June 24 to make hiring easier.  But more than 8000 Texans have signed a petition to reinstate it.

Another Galveston restaurant owner says they are at full staff because they took a different approach to hiring.

James Clark, owner of the Mosquito Cafe says he and about 30 other business owners worked with the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce to fill jobs.

He says they held a job fair aimed at recruiting high school students.  He says he filled every job at the Mosquito Cafe. 

"There was an overwhelming response of students, as well as the general public, but most students that were eager to work, excited to meet these folks in the industry, and get the opportunity to get out there and work," said Clark.

Restaurants and hotels face other challenges, too, including higher prices for food and PPE, and shipment delays.

But businesses are happy to see customers coming back.

"Our focus is unified. Taking care of our team, guests, and community, and praying for the best," said Byrd.