Local restaurants face staffing shortage after increase to 100% capacity

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After working through shutdowns and restrictions, restaurants are dealing with another problem: staff shortages.

8 News Now went to Lotus of Siam, which is having to close its Sahara location due to this ongoing issue. Management says they’re looking to fill nearly every position.

“That was the hardest decision we had to make,” said Courtney Barnett.

She helps manage Lotus of Siam and its small staff.

“It was manageable at 25%, manageable with 50,” Barnett told us. “Then the succession of going to full capacity has been harder.”

She explains the staffing shortage is not from a lack of trying. Open interviews have been held three days a week, with jobs posted online.

“People did reply and say they were interested, but nobody showed up,” Barnett shared.

She says local restaurants are competing in a wage war with the Las Vegas Strip.

“It’s hard to compete with the Strip prices, so we’re all just trying to put our heads down and get as much work done as we can,” Barnett said, “but it’s really hard to find people to help out.”

Lotus of Siam is not alone.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mark Steele, owner of Restaurant Hospitality Institute (RHI), told 8 News Now.

He is now partnering with nonprofits, like Chosen for Success, to fast-track training. A traditional four- week course has been condensed to one week to help fill positions. People who take part in it receive their Southern Nevada Health District food handling card and an alcohol awareness card from RHI. 

“I have my phone ringing off the hook like crazy from people looking for qualified candidates,” Steele said.

He’s hosting job fairs to connect trainees with restaurants, and some are starting the very same day. Steele says this won’t be an overnight fix but can help take the pressure off local businesses.

“I don’t think that the end in sight is very near, sadly,” he lamented. “But we’re just hoping to bridge the gap with these nonprofits and anyone who wants to work.”

The Restaurant Hospitality Institute will be holding a job fair for graduates of the program . Moving forward, they hope to hold them every two weeks.

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