Victoria restaurants dealing with kitchen staff shortages

Victoria restaurants dealing with kitchen staff shortages

Ahead of dinner service Ithaka Greek Restaurant’s kitchen is always a flurry of activity, but lately, due to a lack of workers, the team are doing the prep work shorthanded.

“In the past, you’d put an ad like ‘help wanted’ and you had a couple of people come in a month, that doesn’t happen anymore,” says owner Dimitri Adamopoulos.

Finding workers to fill positions is an issue that nearly every sector is facing, but it is hitting the restaurant industry particularly hard.

“In the kitchen, which is a big part of the restaurant, [it] has been very challenging to find line cooks,” says Adamopoulos. “I think looking at various Facebook pages and websites a lot of places are in the same boat.”

While there were some issues with hiring before the pandemic, COVID-19 exacerbated the issue, according to Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

“The pandemic exacerbated all of that because of people finding that uncertainty in that sector, they didn’t know whether they were going to be open,” says Williams. “There’s been a whole supply chain issue that’s interrupted the regularity of menus, its a bit of a perfect storm of a number of things really.”

Restaurants are starting to see more diners due to restrictions lifting, according to Big Wheel Burger and Zambri’s co-owner Calen McNeil.

“In our situation with the pandemic, it’s not over but it’s easing and travel is starting to happen, there’s a bunch of people that have been putting off trips,” says McNeil.

“In most of our cases people are going on trips and leaving to do that and or moving and relocating to a spot where they’ve always wanted to be.”

Numerous postings for kitchen staff in Victoria litter job sites and fuel competition between restaurants who are all trying to woo potential employees.

“There’s so many places now that are doing finders fees for staff and doing all these things that never happened pre-COVID to find new people,” says Adamopoulos.

“We’re providing benefits, we’re providing living wages, we’re doing some extra stuff that makes the job more enjoyable,” says McNeil.

All of this ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer season.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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