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Help Wanted | Central Texas restaurants looking to hire but no one is applying

The restaurant industry continues to struggle, even as the nation starts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

TEMPLE, Texas — As Texans return to normalcy and come out of the global pandemic, restaurants are having a hard time finding applicants to take their jobs back.

"A lot of them aren't being able to do that employee engagement or job seeker engagement to hire qualified candidates. They are having to work twice as hard themselves just to keep the business afloat," Tom Elmore with Workforce Services of Central Texas said.

Emilie Wright, the owner and operator of Ras Kitchen in Temple, said she can't find anyone to help as they open their business in downtown.

"All you have to do is stick to the plan. I tell myself and my loved ones all the time, the assignment will not change. So, you just stick to the road. So, yeah, we're looking for some good people," she said, tears falling from her eyes.

Elmore said it could be any number of factors, including the extension of benefits through the government but said many may have decided to use the pandemic as a reason to change careers.

"We've had some people coming in and saying, 'This is where I have worked all my life, this is where I'd like to go, is there any jobs available?,'" Elmore said.

Elmore said he's helped some reconnect with education institutions to help them re-develop their skill sets and to make them more prepared for a better income.

"The journey is rocky, you expect rocky," Wright said when asked how difficult it's been to fill her staff. "When you drive down the road, you don't expect the whole pavement to be smooth. At some point you're going to hit a curve."

Workforce Services of Central Texas said restaurants have been hit the hardest as we come out of the pandemic and so this Friday they are holding a job fair to connect job-seekers and employers together at the Santa Fe Plaza in Temple beginning at 5:30 p.m.

"We are working closely with all of those small mom and pop restaurants businesses to create an event for them to actually drive qualified candidates and interested candidates to those venues," Elmore said.

Ras Kitchen, which just had its ribbon cutting last weekend is hopeful that prospective workers will want to work with them and create a special place for Central Texans to gather together and eat.

"We love community and we want to let everyone in but we can't if we don't have any staff," Wright said. "I know there are good people looking for a job, I just need to find a bridge to get them here."

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