Local restaurants short-staffed, hope teens apply during summer break

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teens are the most employed now since 2008. Some business owners are hopeful they will fill the gap in the labor shortage this summer.  

Pedro Reyes, the owner of South Texas Smokehouse Barbecue in the city of Harlingen, said that post-pandemic is when the business started slowing down.

“During the pandemic, we honestly didn’t feel it. It was booming, we had busy, busy days,” said Reyes.  “I had posted that I am hiring, but people don’t come in.”

Reyes believes that unemployment could play a part in the lack of workers, though he said he is unsure.  

“I want to say maybe stimulus checks, I honestly really don’t know, people just not wanting to come to work,” said Reyes. “Right now, we’ve only been having family members helping us.” 

Reyes is not alone. Other long-standing local restaurants, like New York Deli II in Harlingen, have been in business for 20 years and say they cannot keep new hires.

“I have Kevin here who’s been here three and half years on and off. Besides that, yes, it’s been hard, they come in for a day or two then leave,” said John Rendon.

Rendon said he also had the same line cook and dishwasher for over ten years, and while they keep him afloat, he said it is not enough.

“I’ll work with their hours because we are just looking for people to work front and back, the kitchen and the front,” said Rendon.

Rendon said it is even starting to affect the wait time for food, and some customers grow impatient.

“People get upset if the wait time is too long, I try to express to them that we’re short-staffed,” said Rendon. “It’s not only us it’s also where we get our product. Those people are asking us if we know anyone who wants to work.”

Reyes and Rendon said they are willing to work with students’ schedules who are out for the summer.

Reyes said he is hopeful when school is out, there will be an opportunity to hire on more staff.

“I’m hoping some high school students reach out that they need a summer job,” said Reyes. “I mean I am willing to hire some high school students if they need a job.”

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