BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Restaurant Week is here with a goal of promoting local restaurants struggling to hire employees. Local restaurant, El Zun Zun is feeling the impact of current labor shortages. 

General manager of El Zun Zun, Leah Harrigan, says COVID was an initial cause of labor shortages and that it has been hard to recruit new employees ever since.

She says dishwashers, hostesses and food runners are particularly difficult to find. As a result, there is slower service for customers and longer hours for employees.

 “If you don’t have a server it’s going to take longer to get their order and if the kitchen is short it’s going to take longer to get their food,” said Harrigan. “All of those things cause for inconsistency.”

Harrigan believes people have found alternative employment options-like ship or delivery services- that allow them to avoid working in house.

She says several restaurants are now offering incentives like insurance, higher wages and better hours to entice people to work.

 “That’s something that everybody experiences,” said Harrigan. “They’re having to pay people more. You know, better hours- just anything really. Like we’re really trying to get people in the door.”

Harrigan says she is thankful for organizations like ‘Birmingham Restaurant Week’ and the work they do to promote openings at local restaurants like El Zun Zun.

“The ‘Birmingham Restaurant Week’ crew is amazing,” said Harrigan. “I mean they put signage out. They’ve put pamphlets out. Every day I see them blasting on commercials and things. So, I’m a big, big fan of restaurant week. We always participate.”

Harrigan says many restaurants choose to promote new openings on social media as well. There is simply a need for people who are willing to look for those available jobs and apply.