JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Restaurants and bars continue to try to recover from the financial ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.
One year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, those businesses are struggling with extra costs and finding employees.
A lot of customers are now ordering out from restaurants, but the problem is the cups and supplies aren’t free for restaurants. Their other big problem getting people to apply for jobs.
“This year has been a big challenge for everyone in our industry,” said Nammour Nammour, owner of St. Marys Seafood & More. “Sales have plummeted.”
A year ago at St. Marys Seafood & More, the mood was one of devastation.
“I had 13 servers sitting here, and Gov. DeSantis shut us down at 5:30 in the afternoon,” Nammour said. “We didn’t know what to prepare for. A lot of my employees were nervous. A lot of my employees were crying.”
In only the past few months, business has started to improve because a lot of the restaurant’s customer base is older and vaccinations have made seniors more inclined to go out to eat.
Bill and Deb Swan drove to the restaurant from Brunswick, more willing to eat out than last spring.
“Up where we live up in Brunswick, we’ve noticed more people going to restaurants, not that we go to many restaurants,” Deb Swan said. “We go to two up in Brunswick where we live.”
At St. Marys Seafood & More, the hope is more workers will apply.
“That has been the biggest challenge we’ve faced here because all of our restaurants, all 5 locations, are in dire need of help,” Nammour said. “If anyone needs a job, come see me.”
Because when the pandemic ends, the restaurant hopes its business does not.
Nammour said he thinks the biggest contributor to not having enough workers is unemployment benefits pay people enough to either not work or only work part-time and subsidize the lower income with unemployment benefits.
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