San Francisco restaurants experience staffing shortage as reopening continues

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – As the Bay Area continues to reopen and more people feel safe going out to eat again, many restaurants are facing staffing shortages.

With more bars now opening back up in San Francisco, which is now in the yellow tier, many owners are forced to compete for employees.

North Beach is normally packed on any given weekend. We’re seeing a lot more people come out and dine again probably because more people are getting vaccinated but as business picks up, owners here say many employees are now having to fill several roles in the restaurant.

“Weekends are definitely very good, very busy. People feel more comfortable getting vaccinated,” Francesco Covucci said. 

Francesco Covucci owns California Fish Market restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. 

As he’s seeing business pick up here and at his other three restaurants in the city, he says the need for more staff is greater than ever.

“Bus boy right now is a floor manager. You know the server is a bartender and a food runner and a cocktail runner and this is the main challenge right now,” Covucci said. 

Covucci says his staff is down about 25% since the pandemic and needs up to 25 more employees between his four restaurants.

Other restaurant owners like John Konstin Jr. who owns John’s Grill near Market and Ellis Streets have also been busy trying to rehire staff.

“We’ve called a lot of the people from our original team to ask if they’d like to come back and fill the position that opens up. We found a lot of people have actually left San Francisco and a lot of people are still hesitant given that coronavirus is still amongst us,” Konstin Jr. said.

However, Konstin Jr. says he’s been fortunate enough to bring back many of his longtime staff members and prepare for expansion.

“We are cleaning up our second and third floor and we’re slowly looking to bring larger parties in,” Konstin Jr. said.

As many other restaurants look to do the same in the coming months as the state’s expected to fully reopen, some worry staff shortages will continue.

In addition to some of the hiring challenges now, more bars in San Francisco are also reopening this week due to the new yellow tier status, so as you can imagine, owners say it’s becoming more competitive to find and keep a shrinking pool of employees.

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