Food service labor shortage affecting local restaurants

It's a barbecue fixture in the Austin area, The County Line BBQ. 

“We opened June 14 1975, that was 43 years ago, we just celebrated,” said Skeeter Miller owner of The County Line BBQ.

The summer months are quite busy and Miller says when he is fully staffed, he sits at about 75-100 employees.  He is nowhere near that right now.

“At this location we have about 40 slots that are open and I know at the County Line on the lake we have about 55 slots that are open. It puts a real strain on service,” said Miller.

Workforce Solutions is a staffing agency that works with the Texas Workforce Commission. They say, applicants just aren’t as interested in the hospitality industry in Austin 

“With food service, leisure and hospitality there are a lot of entry level jobs, a wonderful way to start their careers, but those jobs typically do not have very high pay ranges,” said Tiffany Wallace, spokesperson for Workforce Solutions.

Couple that with a high cost of living, it's common to see restaurants cut hours, or even close down completely. Owners believe they need to target high school grads and tell them about growth in the industry.

“I was the first dishwasher here. The restaurant business is not just grilling, or working as a waiter or busser. You can be in the marketing part of our industry, you can be in the accounting part, the HR part,” said Miller.

Workforce Solutions says getting the applicants is not difficult, but it's retaining talent that's the challenge.

“We're working with the individuals who are applying, but more importantly working with employers to explain the potential growth and projection within that organization,” said Wallace.

“We have bonus programs, we pay as much as we possibly can, we feed our employees, we provide insurance for our employees,” said Miller.

Will this trend continue as tech companies continue to pour into the region? Only time will tell.