North Texas restaurants seeing employee shortage as they start getting back to normal

North Texas restaurant owners have seen it all throughout the past months, as many were forced to close down.

For the ones who have made it through, Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year, but some are now seeing a shortage of employees.

A full plate in the kitchen and a full crowd in the dining room. Mother’s Day offers an opportunity for families to relax.

"Forget about what’s going on on the outside, and just kind of get that good experience," said Rolo Solis, manager of Origin Kitchen.

It’s also an opportunity for Origin Kitchen and bar in Uptown Dallas to make up for lost businesses, like other restaurants across the country that have suffered during the pandemic.

"Almost feels 99.9 back to normal," Solis said.

He said they just recently got back to operating with a full staff.

"We all kind of took it day-by-day, as a family," he added.

Texas restaurants have seen it all throughout the past 14 months.

"At the height of the pandemic, we had more than 600,000 employees that were either laid off or furloughed," said Joe Monastero, with the Texas Restaurant Association.

Monastero said now the supply of restaurant workers isn’t meeting the demand.

A restaurant displays a "Now Hiring" sign amid the coronavirus pandemic, on August 4, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Jeep Solow manages Asian Mint’s four DFW locations. She said they can’t fully operate because they still don’t have enough staff.

"When we see anyone submit a resume online or application, we’re so excited. It’s like let’s call them in, let’s call them," she said. "We would love to have full capacity."

Still, they’re grateful for the Mother’s Day crowd on Sunday.

"So, it’s non-stop," she said. "We have just enough [workers] to get by."

One issue she’s seen is that single mothers in the industry have had to leave work to stay home with kids for virtual schooling. 

The restaurant association isn’t sure what exactly is causing the shortage.

"That’s because we don’t know if they’ve gone to other industries, if they’re still on unemployment, if they’re still on furloughed and just haven’t been able to come back," Monastero said.

For now, everyone is excited to see business picking back up. For an industry that’s been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

"We’re all looking out for each other. The owners have been there for support," Solis said.

The Texas Restaurant Association said there are still 166,000 restaurant employees sidelined. Much less than the 600,000 plus that were out of work at the beginning of the pandemic, but still a ways to go.