A Chicago pizzeria said it temporarily closed because of the labor shortage, costing it $5,000. Its owner said job applicants weren’t turning up to interviews.

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A waiter in San Francisco, California.

Businesses across the US are suffering from a huge labor shortage as staff quit their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • A pizzeria in Chicago couldn’t open on Sunday because of short-staffing, costing it $5,000, its owner said.

  • The owner of Coalfire Pizza said some staff had quit for higher-paid jobs at larger restaurants.

  • People were avoiding restaurant jobs partly because of a reputation of toxic work environments, he said.

A pizzeria in Chicago couldn’t open on Sunday because it didn’t have enough staff, and the owner told CBS Chicago that it cost him about $5,000.

“We are closed today. I simply do not have enough people to open,” Dave Bonomi, the owner of Coalfire Pizza in West Town, tweeted on Sunday. “In nearly 15 years of selling pizza, this has never happened.”

Bonomi told CBS that he was struggling to find new employees during the labor shortage, and had to close the pizzeria after two staffers had called in sick.

He told Block Club Chicago that job applicants weren’t showing up for interviews.

People were avoiding jobs in the restaurant industry because of its reputation for toxic work environments, harassment from customers, challenging work, and low pay, he said.

Some of Coalfire’s staff had quit for higher-paid jobs at larger restaurant groups and hotels, too, Bonomi added. Coalfire had boosted its starting salary for cooks with little to no prior experience from $15 to $18 an hour, he said.

Staff also got paid time off and overtime pay, and were able to enroll in a health plan with half the costs covered by the company, he said.

Independent restaurants say they struggle to compete with bigger companies on wages and benefits.

Businesses across the US are suffering from a huge labor shortage, making it harder for them to find last-minute cover when their staff are ill.

Other restaurants have had to close with little notice after suddenly finding themselves short-staffed, such as a Pennsylvania chicken restaurant that closed for a day and a Georgia burrito restaurant that temporarily cut its opening hours after its entire staff quit.

Americans are quitting their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Rising cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 are also deterring some people from applying for jobs.

The hospitality industry has been hit especially hard, with workers quitting jobs in the accommodation and food-services sector at twice the national average rate.

Bonomi told Block Club Chicago that Coalfire, which also has a pizzeria in Chicago’s Lakeview, had been “running on fumes” for a few years with a skeleton staff. He said that the staffing problems had gotten worse during the pandemic, and that the pizzeria had barely enough staff to stay open.

Bonomi said a surge of people who had been laid off from higher-paying restaurant jobs had applied to work at Coalfire at the start of the pandemic, but that this had stopped.

Now, huge numbers of Coalfire’s job applicants aren’t even turning up for interviews, he said.

This was “like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Bonomi said.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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