Andrew Gruel, cofounder and executive chef at Slapfish restaurant, is pictured in Huntington Beach, Calif., on June 7, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) There’s an irony to the new dining area at Chef Andrew Gruel’s Huntington Beach, Calif. restaurant. Although he’s now permitted to fill it to capacity under California ’s lifted guidelines, he can’t find the staff to work it.
Statewide labor shortages and inflation are among the challenges restaurateurs are now facing as they crawl back to life following the pandemic -induced restrictions that hammered California’s hospitality industry.
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“First and foremost, a lot of people are making enough on unemployment right now that they’re waiting this out,” Gruel, owner and head chef of Slapfish in Huntington Beach told The Epoch Times.
The demand for labor is a sharp contrast to last December, when the state banned indoor and outdoor dining for the second time.
Hospitality workers “hit rock bottom,” prompting Gruel to launch a GoFundMe page to support the embattled employees. He dispersed funds directly to restaurant workers and owners shortly after the ban went into effect, with donations exceeding $350,000.
Now, that new empty dining area sits quietly in Gruel’s establishment, serving only as a reminder of the challenges he faces.
“This was going to be kind of our newer… full-service oyster bar side,” he said. “They require so much labor that we’re only open five days a week now and only from [3 p.m.] to close, because we can’t get the servers, we can’t get the bartenders and the oyster shuckers.“And […]