‘It’s time we go back to work’: Restaurants struggle to hire, increase wages

Jacksonville, FL. — Several Jacksonville restaurants are hiring, but the applications aren’t coming in.

Mambos Café just opened its third location a month ago in Mandarin. The owner, Raul Arias, said the new business is staffed with employees from his two other restaurants.

“We’re waking up and going through to the end of business almost every day. It takes a toll on the body,” he said.

He is hiring nearly every position, but said people aren’t applying. Those who do, won’t show up to work once getting an offer.

“When it’s time to start working — they only come for the first day, if at all,” he said.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association said it’s because of continued unemployment benefits across the state. Arias is even offering higher wages and incentives like paid time off to try and compete.

“To compete against bigger chains, we decided to start offering that. Even with that being said, we’re having a hard time.”

If changes don’t happen soon, Arias and other restaurant and bar owners agree menu prices might have to increase to help make up for the increased wages.

“We have to lookout for our bottom line. We don’t have any choice as a small business,” Mark Stillman, owner of Green Room Brewing, said.

He’s hiring cooks and bar backs.

On Tuesday, the state extended the work search requirement until May 29. That means people on unemployment don’t have to prove they’re looking for a job until the end of May. Action News Jax reached out to the Governor’s office to see if it is addressing the concern, as of the time of this article, no one has responded.