INVESTIGATES: Restaurant and hospitality staffing struggle could be from unemployment benefits

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The local restaurant and hospitality industry is calling it the worst staffing shortage in years.

Places have been able to be fully opened for months now here in Florida, but the biggest obstacle they’re facing now is finding people to work.

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“The week we were supposed to start training I had three kitchen staff hired, I needed about 18,” explains Chad Munsey, co-owner of the Bearded Pig.

Munsey says despite opening, they’re still down six or seven staff members.

“We’ve had to close Mondays out here at the beach just so our guys could have a day off. It’s tough.”

They’re not the only ones. If you pay close attention, you will find hiring signs in almost every part of town. We found hiring signs at Joe’s Crab Shack at the beach and Angie’s Subs.

Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, explains, “There’s no reason for anyone to say I couldn’t find a job, because I can tell you our members are dying in the labor market.”

Munsey adds, “It’s not just restaurants, it’s all areas of the service industry. Hospitality, hotels — I can’t imagine going to a hotel right now and it’s taking twice as long for housekeeping to turn rooms.”

He says they’ve even put out ads on Craigslist with a $250 signing bonus, with no luck. He believes it’s due to the unemployment benefits many are receiving right now due to the pandemic.

“We just had two more people this week walk out, saying they just don’t want to work anymore, they can go make unemployment.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity tells Action News Jax, “Governor DeSantis waived the work search, work registration, and waiting week requirements through April 24, 2021 for claimants.”

“As an employer you’re kind of dead in the water waiting for someone to decide they want to go back to work,” explained Munsey.

So in the meantime, he’s asking patrons to “please give us a little patience, it won’t always be like this.”

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Estrella Cocina, a new restaurant opening in downtown Jacksonville, is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, April 6, and Saturday, April 17.

The following positions will be available for Estrella Cocina and The Bread and Board (all locations):

  • Store management
  • Sous Chef
  • Line Cook
  • Prep Cook
  • Wait Staff
  • Front of House Guest Services
  • Bar Manager
  • Bartenders
  • Dishwashers
  • Bussers
  • Host/Hostess
  • Barista
  • Floral Associate
  • Market Guest Service
  • Beer & Wine Experts
  • Catering Coordinator
  • Events Coordinator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • HR Associate

Email your resume to

Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Outback Steakhouse are now hiring for all hourly positions and will host a 3-day hiring event – both virtually and in person.

Thursday, April 8 On-site interview: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Virtual interview: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 10 On-site interview: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

To schedule a virtual interview, click here.