Some Daytona Beach restaurants cut hours, scale back operations amid worker shortage

The next time you dine out, you may want to double-check restaurant hours and likely expect a limited menu as owners deal with a worker shortage.

Tricia Phillippi works closely with restaurants. She said a growing number of places are cutting back hours, scaling back menus and even closing additional days.

The problem has gotten so bad she created the Restaurant Job Connection Facebook page. Since she started it less than three weeks ago, it has gained more than 500 members.

"We had a need for a platform where we could connect those that are seeking employment in the restaurant industry and then those that were hiring," she said.

For some places, the shortage has taken an extreme turn. Zappi’s Italian Grill on Daytona’s Beach Street closed down for now.

"We had quite a few front-of-the-house staff, but cooks, dishwashers, hostesses, and even maintenance has been impossible to get... 30-40 interviews booked [and] no one shows up," he said.

Owner Paul Zappitelli thinks people are living off unemployment and stimulus money. He anticipates a complete return to normalcy for the industry in the fall. 

"Perhaps once this unemployment runs out, stimulus runs out, which you know it will, we’ll be back to the races," he said. 

As for Phillippi, she hopes her efforts make a difference and help owners bounce back.

"We’re not going to completely correct the problem, but my idea was to just truly raise awareness to the impacts that it’s having on our local businesses," she said.

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