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Restaurants in Crisis 2022

As the labour crisis continues to plague restaurants, we are reminded yet again that there is no simple solution.

Many restaurants are still struggling desperately to maintain a viable level of staffing, and there is no easy answer. The labour pool has shrunk dramatically with many former gig workers leaving the industry, leaving operators to scramble to adjust their hiring processes and working cultures.

Meeting workers with competitive compensation can be a challenge in itself and, amid the current backdrop of record-high levels of inflation and potential workers’ expectations of more competitive salaries, more than four in 10 restaurants say they simply cannot afford to add more workers right now, despite their labour shortages.

COVID-19 devastated Ontario's hospitality industry, both restaurants and hotels. Restaurants might be feeling it the most because of the low margins — the razor-thin margins that traditionally apply in that sector — but both hotels and restaurants have been hurt. Even though we are seeing signs of overall economic recovery, our industry will have a tough road ahead, and that’s going to include rising costs and repaying loans. For example, food prices have already gone up and are expected to go even higher. Labour costs are going up because the workforce is becoming a severe issue. The workforce was the biggest issue in our industry before COVID. Now, it is critical that everyone, including government, support a remedy for that. COVID is not going to be over until we are sustained through at least 18 months of recovery.

And now we have added extra costs, incremental costs. Food is more expensive, as I mentioned. The entire supply chain. But there are added costs everywhere now, including health measures. And, then, on top of all that, the cost of the loans. This is going to be a crisis, and this is where government can help the industry.

The question is where do restauranteurs go from here? It's a changing world with the new order of things affecting more than just the hospitality industry. I have offered many solutions in past threads, lets do a recap.

The past year has shown us that employers need to step up their game, not just to attract more candidates but also to keep the great employees they already have. In the new year, we expect many restaurant owners to start investing in their work culture and putting more importance on a work/life balance. Support from management, better communication, and encouraging workplace friendships all contribute to a healthy company culture.

Restaurants and other businesses have begun embracing aspects of social responsibility, and the trend is expected to continue in 2022. Many establishments are taking it upon themselves to explore options on how to reduce their carbon footprint and lower their negative impact on the environment. Restaurants are also engaging in other aspects of social responsibility such as donating a portion of proceeds to charity and hosting local fundraising events. In the next year, look for restaurants to continue to engage in social responsibility, giving back to local communities, and establishing themselves as community leaders.

With the many plastic and styrofoam bans that popped up before the pandemic, it looked like we were on a track to reduce single-use products in the industry. Then the delivery and takeout boom temporarily derailed the movement towards sustainability. Next year we’ll see the pendulum swinging back the other way as a wide variety of eco-friendly disposable products become available.

This list could be very extensive and should also include, buying local, growing your own food, energy and waste management and so on. Have a look through some of my past posts for more knowledge.

One last plug for my business, private chef catering. Although not really helpful to the brick and mortar guys, its a good example of future trends in the delivery of quality foodservice.

Cheers, and have a happy hump day!

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