By CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bars and restaurants are ready to toast to an increase in business, but some owners say finding help is proving difficult.

They’re wondering, where are the workers?

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As the economy recovers, “help wanted” signs litter storefronts that were once shuttered. It’s good for job seekers, but it turns out there are more openings than people wanting to work.

“We need bussers. We need waiters. We need waitresses. We need bartenders. We need a bit of everything,” said Rory Dolan, owner of Rory Dolan’s Restaurant & Bar in Yonkers.

Dolan told CBS2’s Nick Caloway his Irish restaurant and pub is short about 15 people.

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Some of the people who worked there pre-pandemic left town and never came back. Others are afraid to work indoors during a pandemic.

“We’re turning away business because we can’t take all the business because we don’t have enough staff,” Dolan said.

It’s a familiar problem for businesses in New York and nationwide.

A few blocks away from Rory Dolan’s in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, Keane’s Bar and Restaurant is finally ramping up after a slow year.

“Right now, we’re running on a skeleton crew and have been probably for a year,” owner Seamus Keane said.

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Keane said luckily, some candidates have come in looking for work. Most of his former employees got out of the business altogether.

“They finally couldn’t rely on the restaurant industry, so they went and found work elsewhere in places that didn’t stop working — construction, home care, a lot of people went back to school,” he said.

Others are just staying home, making nearly as much, or even more money, by collecting unemployment benefits.


Tom Grech, with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, says it’s time for people to get off the couch and back to work.

“Go out and help those small businesses because guess what? If they wait until the very, very end, there may not be jobs to go back to. Those small businesses just may not survive,” he said.

The Labor Department reported 266,000 new jobs in April, far below the 1 million jobs that some economists expected. The unemployment rate is still above 6%. It was 3.5% heading into the pandemic.

The hospitality industry showed the biggest gains in the April report, but demand for employees still outpaces supply.

Back at Keane’s, they plan to bring back live Irish music starting the first week of June. After the year they’ve had, call that a huge step in the right direction.

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CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team