Can’t get staff: restaurant cuts hours

Published 2:00pm 27 September 2022

Can’t get staff: restaurant cuts hours
Words by Kylie Knight

Significant staff shortages have forced popular Redcliffe Italian Restaurant The Rustic Olive to cut its opening hours from October 4.

Owner Sam Ayache says the labour crisis enveloping all industries is the worst he’s see it in the 15 years he’s been running his business.

As a result, he’s broken the news to customers that the restaurant will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and closed for lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It will be open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday and open for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (see below for the full list).

“We don’t have any backup coming through, we’ve been trying for the past two years to get people on board but they come and go,” Sam explains.

He says many people say the hours and pay don’t suit them.

Sam says The Rustic Olive used to get three resumes a day before the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is no longer the case and there’s minimal response to online job advertisements.

|“It’s right across the whole industry, all industries … not just hospitality,” he says.|

Even university and school students seem unwilling to work.

“We can’t get them. They don’t want to work, they’re too comfortable at home,” he says.

Can’t get staff: restaurant cuts hours

Worsening labour crisis

Sam opened The Rustic Olive 15 years ago, and it has since become a popular destination drawing diners from across South East Queensland. He has never experienced staff shortages like this.

“It’s really ugly. There’s a lot of uncertainty, there’s a lot of handouts which have given them a choice (not to work),” he says.

His core team of 45 staff can only do so much.

“I have a fantastic, loyal and strong team who have been amazing throughout COVID. We’ve dropped the hours down so we can give them a break for their wellbeing. It’s also for our survival until we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. We can’t at the moment,” he says.

Sam says governments are focused on training and education for the future, which will not solve the problem facing businesses now.

“Woolies and Maccas are crying out for staff … they used to have 100 applications waiting (for positions). If they are struggling, how are middle and small businesses going to sustain it and hang on,” he asks.

Not a move to cut costs

Sam says the decision to cut opening hours was not made to reduce costs, because the thriving business is filled with customers when it’s open.

“We’re shutting because of the shortage of staff and we have limited options in who’s coming through,” he says.

“We’re giving (our team) two days (a week) to recharge and work it to the best of our ability we can for now.

“If this continues, we’ll have to just do takeaway and delivery like we did during the lockdowns.”

Can’t get staff: restaurant cuts hours

How customers can help

Sam says the community have been great supporters of his business throughout the pandemic and he hopes this will continue.

He’s encouraging diners to book, phoning after noon on Wednesdays, and come in droves at the times they are open.

He’d love political leaders to speak with business owners about possible solutions and to find out what they need, rather than simply providing subsidies, education opportunities and ‘handouts’.

“We need hands-on help now. We’re not thinking about next year, or next month. Education is too late, we need help now,” he explains.

He says there needs to be incentives to work and remain in a job.

The menu, which has remained the same for three years, will be updated to cover increasing wages and food costs.

Table service will remain.

“I’ve always said, ‘dinner is an experience, not a tap and go,” he says.

“I’d ask customers to have patience and think of the other person on the other side (of the counter).”

Opening hours

Monday - closed

Tuesday - closed

Wednesday – Dinner (from 4.30pm)

Thursday – Dinner (from 4.30pm)

Friday – Lunch (11.30am-2.30pm), dinner (from 4.30pm)

Saturday – Lunch (11.30am-2.30pm), dinner (from 4.30pm)

Sunday - Lunch (11.30am-2.30pm), dinner (from 4.30pm)

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