Restaurants search for new hires ahead of dropped social distancing restrictions

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’ll be a busy next week for many local restaurants between scheduling and discussing new floor plans. Eateries have a lot of their plate ahead of Dec. 1 when six-foot distancing restrictions drop for restaurants.

Side Street Inn Kapahulu says this annoucement couldn’t have come at a better time with dozens of calls already coming in for large parties for the holidays.

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“We’re excited and a little nervous to get back into the swing of things,” said Korie Sasano of Side Street Inn. “I think we can actually add 10 to 15 more tables. It also depends how much tables we can put together for the larger parties. So it’s really going back to the old ways of how we used to do things.”

Come Dec. 1, Side Street Inn and other eateries will be able to move in those extra tables, but that won’t be the case for some that are still navigating through pandemic woes.

“We still are facing an ongoing labor shortage, along with rising costs,” said Ryan Tanaka, Hawaii Restaurant Association incoming chairman, and co-owner of Giovanni Pastrami. “There’s a supply chain disruption that’s happening worldwide. So it’s still going to take some time for us to ramp up.”

Tanaka says finding back of the house workers like line cooks continues to be the biggest challenge. Side Street Inn is also going to back to the drawing board to hire more staff.

“It is kind of up and down trying to find people,” Sasano said. “Before we’ve done fliers and posted on social media, word of mouth, referral programs for employees. So hopefully we try that again, and we can get more people coming in.”

With loosened restrictions on gatherings, the hotel industry is also looking to bring back events that staff food and beverage employees.

“It’s going to be large gatherings that could consists of a wedding, a banquet, some kind of group meeting, convention of sorts,” said Mufi Hannemann Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO. “All these things are very important to put people back to work.”

The food service industry is expecting a busy holiday season and is ready to serve at full capacity once again. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says it’s a win win for all.

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“This is going to be terrific for our smaller restaurants, because they are the fabric of our communities, the fabric of how we live,” said Rick Blangiardi, Honolulu Mayor. “Like the Governor said we need to get people back to work at those restaurants and staffed again.”

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