New Bern businesses are hit by labor shortage
NEW BERN, NC (WNCT) – Restaurants and businesses in eastern North Carolina are feeling the effects of a nationwide labor shortage.
Between great food and good times at MJ’s Raw Bar and Grille, the restaurant workers are exhausted.
“We get tired just because people who work are working almost every day,” said Ben Lentz, director at MJ’s.
For 16 years the restaurant has been open seven days a week. Now they are closed on Mondays due to the shortage. Despite this, the restaurant is on track to have its best year in terms of sales.
“Saturday was our best day in 16 years,” said Lentz.
Bed and breakfasts are also under pressure.
“Ideally that would be three more people, at the moment we only have one,” said Gretchen Du Peza, who owns and manages Benjamin Ellis House Bed & Breakfast with her husband.
They looked for additional hands to help them. People who visit the area say things look pretty normal.
“On the evenings we ate out, there didn’t seem to be a problem with the waiters in the restaurants,” said Tom Redding, a visitor from New Bern.
Redding said he has seen some effects of the labor shortage in other parts of North Carolina. The long-term effects are what Du Peza is afraid of.
“If we’re hosting large groups, or if the caterers can’t handle the demands and the convention center isn’t able to recruit staff, that’s a concern for me,” said Du Peza. “It will have an impact on the recovery New Bern is finally enjoying.”
Melissa Riggle is the Executive Director of the Craven County Tourism Development Authority. She said she understands these fears and tries to help their community partners overcome them.
“What we’re doing is having conversations with city stakeholders and hotel partners, doing what we can,” said Riggle. “Knowing when we’re going to see tourist traffic and larger groups and see how we can mitigate the effect of staff changes. “