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San Diego Hospitality Businesses Struggle To Find Workers As Tourist Season Begins

A man walks through a patch of flowers to garden and beautify the entrance ou...

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: A man walks through a patch of flowers to garden and beautify the entrance outside of Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, June 29, 2021.

Hotels and restaurants across the U.S. are struggling to hire workers they lost during the pandemic. It's no different in San Diego County.

Eric Soto manages Encinitas Cafe and has been working there for over a decade. He said they have had to limit the number of people they serve in the restaurant and give job hunters more incentives.

Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

RELATED: Help Wanted: Labor Crisis Plagues US Restaurant Industry

“We’ve bumped the starting wage a couple of dollars, especially with minimum wage going up back in January. And you know, you have to, in turn, raise prices,” Soto said. “Our margins are small at restaurants, they're not that large. So if you raise wages a little you have to pass that onto the consumer.”

Just down the road, Honey’s Bistro & Bakery is also short-staffed. Manager Karelly Sanchez said on top of hiring struggles, food prices are rising.

“Something drastic needs to happen. We need to have more staff,” Sanchez said. “So we’re hoping it starts picking up and more people want to apply now.”

RELATED: San Diego Lags Behind State And Country In Job Recovery

Photo caption:

Photo by Jacob Aere

Diners eat at tables set on the sidewalk outside of Honey's Bistro & Bakery in Encinitas, June 29, 2021.

In San Diego's hotel and resort industry, the trends are the same.

Anthony Belef is the area director at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad.

He said guests are coming back in big numbers. But they’ve had to reduce capacity and change some hours of operation in order to deliver the same experience.

“In our peak season we’d typically have about 1,000 to 1,200 people at most,” Belef said. “Even after many months of slowly reopening things, we’re at around 650 employees right now.”

These business owners aren’t exactly sure why they can’t find enough workers.

Some said workers may be worried about contracting COVID-19. Others mentioned that employees may have left the industry for more stable and flexible jobs. And all suggested that some previous workers may be happy to stay home with extra government benefits still available.

Reported by Jacob Aere , Video by Guillermo Sevilla

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Photo of Jacob Aere

Jacob Aere
Freelance Reporter and Web Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a freelance reporter. In addition to covering the latest news and issues relevant to San Diego, I seek the overlooked voices of our community to tell their stories.

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