DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - If you're dining out and noticing open tables and long waits, you're not alone.
Restaurant insiders say it's an industry-wide problem that stems back to the beginning of the pandemic.
Texas restaurants are allowed to be at full capacity, but many aren't, and not just because of safety measures.
It's not for lack of trying but a lack of labor.
"I've talked to so many restaurants that have put out job listing after job listing, using every site out there trying to find people, but, because they can't hire, they can't really open up at 100%," said Anna Tauzin of the Texas Restaurant Association.
Zee Aziz, owner of Bugatti Ristorante in Dallas, said it's the biggest problem plaguing the industry at this point in the pandemic.
"The conversation is the shortage of labor. That is definitely the conversation right now in this market," he said.
The Texas Restaurant Association said it is still trying to determine why but believes there are several factors.
"Whenever restaurants were closed, there weren't a lot of restaurant jobs available, and so those workers then went out and found other careers," said Tauzin.
"They went to construction sites or other jobs that pay more, and, also, they like to be outside and away from the crowded areas," said Aziz.
Another is that many are still collecting unemployment.
"It's wonderful that our federal government was able to offer those kinds of benefits, but now we need people to come back to work," said Tauzin.
The Texas Restaurant Association said another problem is reservations - people making them and not showing up without canceling.
"Restaurants hold those reservations typically for about 15 minutes after your reservation time, so if someone comes in looking for a table, you can't give them a table if it's reserved," Tauzin said. "The loss of reservations is a huge money issue for a lot of restaurants."
And Tauzin said, until the labor shortage improves, hungry Texans will have to wait longer than usual.
"Everyone out there who has kids, you want them to have a summer job? This is a really good industry to be in."
for more features.