HONOLULU (KHON2) — Thanksgiving is two weeks away. The holiday is considered one of the biggest days of the year for restaurants. But some restaurants are looking at cutting back because they just don’t have enough workers.
“Thanksgivings a big deal to us now,” said Ruby Tuesday co-owner Rick Nakashima.
He said they’ll have turkey with all the fixings, just like they’ve done it for more than a decade. So they’ll have plenty of servings, but what about servers?
“We ask everyone that can work, to work a shift where we’re open,” Nakashima added. “We cut our hours down so we’re only open from 11 to 8, and that helps a little bit.”
They’re not alone.
“Our staffing is a challenge, especially during the holidays,” said Big City Diner Corporate Chef Dennis Franks. “Coming up to Thanksgiving in the restaurant, that’s one of the most challenging times of the year for for us.”
According to Franks, the staffing issues are impacting their Kaimuki location the most.
“We can’t even offer our normal packages that we offer every Thanksgiving for people to buy our family meals,” Franks explained.
Franks said the other four Big City locations are offering family meals.
“(They’re) trying their best to make it happen,” he said.
Last week, Lee’s Bakery and Kitchen in Chinatown announced it would not be open to sell it’s famous Thanksgiving pies — a tradition they’d carried on since the 1980s. The reason stated by the owner: Not enough staff.
The Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Sheryl Matsuoka said staffing is a massive problem.
“Don’t be surprised if you see the restaurant owner themselves in the restaurant on the floor, bussing tables and serving meals,” said Matsuoka. “That’s how much we need those sales.”
Some restaurants are even incorporating technology, like robots, to assist their staff.
“Yeah, the robots are great,” Nakashima said. “Yes, they definitely help our servers out, but we still need more servers.”
He said you need that human touch.
Without it, and without an adequate workforce, many of the things people have come to enjoy, like ordering pre-cooked Thanksgiving meals and dining out on the holiday, may become things of the past.
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If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to call the restaurant or caterer you normally order from to ensure they’ll be open this year.