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Fast food businesses take hit from being understaffed

Now hiring signs are covering the Wiregrass, especially with jobs available in the food industry.
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Now hiring signs are covering the Wiregrass, especially with jobs available in the food industry. Several area restaurants are having to adjust their hours or even close their dining rooms because of short staffing.

This time last year they were closing their doors due to COVID-19 spreading, but now they are having to make these difficult decisions because not only do they not have enough employees, but they are hardly getting applications to fill these jobs.

“It’s 11:15 on a beautiful day, our parking lot is empty, our drive thru is empty and our restaurant is empty,” Bob Sirkis, owner of Fazoli’s in Dothan, said. ”We don’t have enough employees to staff to be open at lunch time.”

Fazoli’s is taking a financial hit from not the virus, but from being understaffed. The restaurant is having to operate at its best without employees.

“We’re doing about half of the sales that we should do and we’re losing a great deal of money,” Sirkis said.

The restaurant is being forced to adjust business hours from being normally being open for lunch and dinner, to now not opening until 5 p.m.

“People who are our loyal guests, are coming and grabbing the door handle and going, ‘Oh that’s unfortunate,’” Sirkis said. “It’s terrible as a businessman and it’s very hard emotional because these people are our life blood.”

The restaurant has only 17 of the 35 needed employees to fully operate.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for 45 years, 25 as an executive with national chains and now 20 years with owning my own restaurants, and it’s never been like this,” Sirkis said.

They went from getting about 20 applications a week to now only receiving one or two.

“Half of them may show up for the interview as scheduled,” Sirkis said. “If we offer jobs to people, about half of the people that we offer jobs to will come to work and it keeps getting worse because of the people that will accept our job come to work, within a month probably half of our new employees will leave as well. There is something just terribly upside down, the work ethic, the disincentive for working is too great.”

Fazoli’s is not alone.

“It’s across the board,” Donald Smith, operating partner for WINCO Bojangles, said. “I mean everybody is trying to get team members.”

Smith said hiring issues are not new, but he has never faced anything close to this.

“I’ll go a whole weekend without getting an application and that’s never happened before,” Smith said.

Smith said Bojangles restaurants in the Dothan area were the first to open their dining rooms after implementing COVID-19 protocols, but just a year later they are having to temporarily close them off again. This time because of staffing.

“It’s been tough,” Smith said. “It’s been tough keeping our dining rooms open from a staffing standpoint.”

The restaurant is making it a priority of opening the dining rooms back up by filling four to six positions per restaurant. The drive thru remains open.

“We’re not that far off and we’re going to get them open soon, but we are doing the career fairs, we’re doing everything we can to get team members and keep us going,” Smith said.

However, if these positions are not filled…

“We can’t operate,” Sirkis said.

But, these businesses are keeping a positive attitude during this difficult time.

“We have got good team members,” Smith said. “We’re pulling together, we’re doing the best we can and it’s going to get better.”

Fazoli’s is hiring employees with pay from $10.00 and $13.00 an hour based on experience. Sirkis tells News 4 there is room to grow as an assistant manager making $14.00 an hour.

Bojangles is starting pay at $9.00 an hour.

Click here to apply at Fazoli’s. You can also text “fazolis 5299″ or “fazolis5299″ to 85000

To apply at Bojangles, you can stop by any location and can possibly get an interview on the spot.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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