Houston restaurants struggle to fill open jobs

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- There's a stumbling block in the road to recovery for the local restaurant industry: A worker shortage.

You cannot open without enough workers. Locally, restaurant industry representatives say another 50,000 people are needed for business to return to normal.

While customers are coming back to locations that survived the pandemic, restaurant owners say opening a new establishment is a struggle.

"Demand has picked back up in almost every industry, and everyone is hiring at the same time, and that is causing challenges in hiring," said Masroor Fatany of AYG Food Services.

Fatany said many restaurant workers left the industry during the pandemic when businesses closed. A lot of those workers found jobs in the delivery sector at places like Amazon and Walmart.

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Fatany said he did not have to lay off workers during the pandemic, so the five locations of The Halal Guys he operates are back in business, but his new venture, Layne's Chicken Fingers, is struggling to fill 50 openings. He's even bumped up starting pay 10%.

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So, what's the solution to filling that 50,000 worker gap?

"The big thing is going to be culture. Another thing is going to be work environment that you provide, and people are going to have to be more competitive, not just on pay but everything else that goes into a job, and most importantly, career advancement," said Fatany.

Mom-and-pop restaurants may feel the brunt of this as their workers find better paying jobs.

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You can apply for positions at Layne's Chicken Fingers through the restaurant's website.

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