As Americans resume some parts of their lives during the pandemic, businesses have no shortage of customers. Finding workers remains a problem for many.
The Texas bistro saw a boom in demand for events such as in-house get-togethers, anniversaries and wedding rehearsals as weddings that were postponed in 2020 reopen.
“Our biggest deal isn’t turnover, it’s been a combination of a record few months here,” said Texas bistro chef and owner Colin Campion. “The last three months have been outstanding. Our business has been growing since Abbott reopened the state. “
Campion said he tries to keep wages competitive while keeping businesses profitable.
The new American restaurant has 22 employees with three positions open – a part-time host, a server, and a part-time kitchen worker.
Line cooks get paid $15 an hour, other chefs are salaried and bartenders get tips and tipped over by servers.
Campion said he wanted to see whether he might need to increase menu prices to balance the increase in wages.
He said some of them could be affected by any minimum wage increase coming from the federal government.
“We are looking at whether the minimum wage increase and how it will affect restaurants, how we will offset the front of the house and how we will spread the money,” Campion said. “The servers are making great money, we have a small kitchen crew so we try to take care of them as much as possible and make it very competitive for them to work here in terms of money.”
It’s not just restaurants looking to fill positions while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Go Green Botanicals is also struggling with hiring, requiring an entry-level worker for its New Braunfels location and a general manager for its pending second location.
Go Green Botanicals sells CBD and THC infused products. CBD and THC are natural compounds found in cannabis or cannabis plants that do not give the user the same psychoactive effects as marijuana.
Products include gummies, flowers and CBD oil.
Their entry-level workers start at $13 an hour — a bump up from the recent $12 an hour — and follow a bonus structure.
Owner Ben Sanchez said he thinks his pay is fair and is looking for the best employees he can get.
“We have something worth living for ourselves, for their family,” Sanchez said. “We don’t want them to be aggressive and we want to make sure they are providing the right product for the customer, not just throwing away anything like ‘Here it may help you’, while in fact It can’t happen.”
Sanchez said he is eyeing wage discussions but would prefer not to raise product prices to raise wages.
“Right now our prices are very convenient for our customers,” Sanchez said. “If we have to raise wages, we have to raise the prices of our product and I don’t want to do that. I know there is inflation and it’s happening faster than we expected, but we have to raise product prices and that’s really not what we want to do to our customers. “
Ben and his wife Karina, the co-owners, said they are operating their website and other functions without any additional support, which has become difficult.
“We stopped putting as much energy and effort into looking for employees and went ahead and handled it ourselves,” said Ben Sanchez. “We are looking for just the right person, they are motivated, self-motivated, understand cannabis and have a passion for it.”
Karina Sanchez said that many of the resumes she received are not eligible because many are applying to receive unemployment benefits.
“We used to get a ton before COVID because it was an interesting job and a lot of people were trying to get into it,” said Karina Sanchez. “This time we hardly get any resumes. We got two but you can tell he submitted his resume to get unemployment, it has been very tough this year.
As negotiations around wages continue, Campion said he is watching the headlines and knows they will need to raise their prices in order to pay competitive wages – as will be the case in other places.
“We still want to be as competitive as possible with all the competition in the city, but everyone is slowly raising their prices, from the big corporate fast food places to all the mom and pop spots,” Campion said. “It’s something we’ll be competitive with, but we have to try to be profitable and keep paying our bills.”
Inflation is not something that is limited to wages only.
Campion said they are also grappling with supplier changes and rising prices on products ranging from beef to containers.
One menu item is beef tenderloin, but Campion said they may have to raise the price or find a different cut of meat.
“So we’re seeing a shortage of the various products and supplies that we use here across the board leading to rising prices,” Campion said. “As everyone from Amazon to various farms and ranches” – Where are all these products coming from – it’s all growing so our spending is going up.”
At Go Green Botanicals, suppliers are seeing an increase in demand while handling their own shortages, resulting in slower production. Ben Sanchez said his store would only place large orders in case production slows down.
“Production is really slow and it’s happening all over the country,” said Ben Sanchez. “We are out of some products for a good minute due to lack of employment and production.”