MEDINA, Ohio (WJW)– The restaurant industry is in the midst of a major crisis: Owners are struggling to hire workers as the pandemic decreases and the economic demand increases.
One local restaurant owner took drastic measures to recruit help.
“I think desperate times call for desperate measures,” said George Santosuosso, owner of Santosuossos Pizza Pasta Vino on Medina Road.
Santosuosso decided to hold a “help wanted” sign at the exit ramp of Interstate 71 south and Route 18 in Medina Wednesday.
“It was just something to catch people’s eye,” Santosuosso said.
Santosuosso said he’s been an owner-operator for more than 40 years and he’s never seen a staffing shortage like this. Feeling helpless, he took his message to the streets.
“I’ve seen people on the corner before. I’m fortunate that I’m not homeless, but I’m helpless as far as my staff goes,” Santosuosso said.
It’s a current trend in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
“Some people are just not ready to come back. They might not have the child care they had pre-COVID,” said John Barker with the Ohio Restaurant Association.
And according to Barker, other workers have moved into different industries.
“We are going to have to re-promote this industry to the workforce. Maybe we will have to be more creative in terms of the hours we offer or the conditions,” Barker said.
Barker said 3,000 restaurants closed in Ohio because of the pandemic. However, more than 20,000 are still in operation.
While his restaurant may have survived, Santosuosso said he is still struggling.
“It’s not below me to come out and do this. It’s a plea for wanting staff. I really want some experienced staff, but you know what, I’ll take what I can get,” Santosuosso said.