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Business Increasing At New Jersey Restaurants But Owners Say They're Struggling To Find Staff

COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. (CBS) -- New Jersey restaurant owners say they're struggling to find workers as Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to make another "major announcement" in relation to the state COVID-19 response on Monday.

CBS3's Alicia Roberts is in Collingswood with more on this problem restaurant owners are facing and why it's happening.

On a perfect weather night like Sunday, restaurants are bustling with outdoor dining especially following a year of COVID-19 closures.

But, if Gov. Murphy increases capacity above 50% on Monday, getting served might not be as easy as customers expect -- given an industry-wide shortage of staff across the Garden State.

While dining out is once again in high demand, staff is in short supply.

"We need cooks, we need servers," General Manager of The Tortilla Press Joseph Fitzgerald said.

After being forced to lay off workers last spring, The Tortilla Press in Collingswood is now ready to hire.

"We try everything, we try word of mouth, we try ads," Fitzgerald said.

But, they still have six to seven spots sitting open.

"Wait times are a lot of times through the roof," server Angela Colo said.

Just up Haddon Avenue, business has picked up steadily since March, but applications continue to lag.

"Some of my coworkers do have friends who are staying home because they do collect more from unemployment than their jobs," Colo said.

And with the potential for another pull back on COVID-19 capacity restrictions, restaurants are wondering how to make it all work.

"It's a little nerve-racking especially because we have Cinco de Mayo coming up on Wednesday," Fitzgerald said.

Some chains, including Chickie's and Pete's and even Wawa, are offering big incentives to start as soon as possible.

"If you know anybody that is looking for a job, we would love to bring them in and see if they're a good fit," Fitzgerald said.

And with both Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day happening this coming week, restaurant operators will be paying close attention to Monday's announcement from Trenton.

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