Many Louisiana restauranteurs are still in the pandemic recovery process despite the fact that they have been allowed to reopen at full capacity for several months now. Members of the Louisiana Restaurant Association actually met in person for the first time in many months this past weekend in New Orleans. As you might imagine, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the state was a very hot topic among those who were in attendance.

Other than maybe the healthcare industry, I don't believe there has been an industry in our state that has been impacted more than the hospitality industry. If one of your state's biggest selling points is the food, it's hard to attract visitors when your restaurants are closed. Such was the case during the height of last year's lockdowns. Restaurant industry leaders say those kinds of mitigation measures are not what they want to see.

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The President of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Stan Harris was quoted in a story published by the Louisiana Radio Network regarding how the industry has fared over the past year.

Pretty well is compared to how they’ve been doing in COVID. A lot of our restaurants are open a limited number of days, many stop seating people before 9 p.m

Harris told LRN that he hopes rising case counts won't lead to reduced capacities in the state's restaurants. He and the LRA members are encouraging patrons to comply with mask mandates when they go out to eat.

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The other concern than many restauranteurs across the state, and the nation for that matter, is staffing. Most restaurants across the state are running short-staffed. Some have altered their hours of service because of this, others just haven't been able to serve as many guests as they normally could.

Harris told LRN that the hope among restauranteurs is that an end to federally mandated unemployment benefits will encourage more and more people to re-enter the workforce. He did say that applications for employment are on the rise but still, most places simply don't have the workers they need.

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One restaurant operator that we spoke with personally says the normal staff size at one of his locations is normally about 35 people. Currently, most of his locations are operating at a staff size of about 24. So, there are jobs out there in the industry. There just don't appear to be people willing to work for the compensation being offered.

Remember you can support our state's restaurant industry by not curtailing your dining plans because of COVID case counts. Many restaurants offer a drive-through service as well as pick-up service too. And when you do choose to dine in be cognizant that many places are understaffed. So, be patient and go easy on those harsh Yelp! reviews.

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