HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — As restrictions loosen in Alabama, the restaurant industry is recovering from a rough year during the pandemic. Many restaurants across the Birmingham metro were booked full for Mother’s Day celebrations.

Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for the food and beverage industry. This year, consumers plan to spend an average of $220.48 on Mother’s Day items, according to the National Retail Federation. This figure is $16 more than they planned to spend last year and the highest in the survey’s history.

For many restaurants, it wasn’t the CDC guidelines that complicated the day, it was short-staffing.

Ironwood, a restaurant located inside The Valley Hotel in downtown Homewood, hosted its first Mother’s Day brunch. The hotel opened in February of 2021.

“We are very surprised that we had to actually close the reservation for a little bit as we were above the 250 mark [of people] and that, of course, is a lot of people to attend to,” said Franck Debril, the director of food and beverage at the Valley.

Debril said many of the employees that left have found careers in entirely different industries.

“First and foremost, we have a lot of stimulus [payments] and people have been burnt [out] as well,” he said. “I think a lot of my staff found other jobs, not in the industry. Really some people I know working in the banking industry, and the insurance industry, and in real estate and they do not want to come back to work the weekends.”

The Ferreira’s spent their Mother’s Day afternoon at Ironwood. The family said they had to call several restaurants before landing a reservation; but not for the reason they expected.

“Actually we had trouble finding a reservation because everything was packed, versus everything being closed down,” said Olivia Ferreira.

After many holidays spent at home, for the Ferreira’s, lifted restrictions were a welcoming reason to celebrate Mother’s Day.

“It is nice that we don’t have to be interrupted by wearing masks or worrying about the person next to me could be sick so we should stay home,” said Olivia Ferreira.

Mother’s Day spending is expected to total a record $28.1 billion this year, up $1.4 billion from 2020, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation. Approximately 83% of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate the annual holiday.