14-hour days, back-to-back shifts, constant rushes a reality
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The food industry has struggled throughout the pandemic. Now, as restaurants are expanding and reopening, the weather warms and locals and visitors alike come calling, they face a new challenge.
In "Moderate Risk" Deschutes County, occupancy is now limited to 50 percent for indoor dining -- and as summer approaches, restaurants have been getting busier than they've been for months.
But when it comes to hiring needed staff, some restaurant managers say they're in competition with the federal government. Stimulus checks help people make ends meet, but they also may not be as motivated to find work.
On top of that, some people say they won't work because they don't want to risk getting COVID-19.
As a result, some restaurants are severely understaffed and operating with limited menus.
Anthony Avraam, manager of the Pine Tavern in downtown Bend, said Tuesday that with summer coming, they can't keep their current pace.
"We want to be able to go float the river this summer, too," he said. "It's finding that work-life balance -- that comes with beefing up your staff."
Pine Tavern employees are on four-day shifts. Avraam said those become four long days.
Some restaurants with multiple locations have had to operate only one, to maintain business.
In the past year, the food industry has adapted to the numerous safety protocols and changes. That has impacted the hiring process significantly.
Jason Camberg, co-owner of The Point Pub and Grill, said, "It's just back and forth, and it's really tough. Retaining staff, training staff, going from being busy to not being busy -- it's really tough."
With summer and tourist season coming, restaurants will continue to be busy. Both the Pine Tavern and the Point are hiring for all positions.