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Dayton Restaurants Struggling With Worker Shortage

emily mendenhall works in between talking to potential employees
Chloe Murdock
Emily Mendenhall works in between talking to potential employees at a job fair. Mendenhall co-owns Lily's and Blind Bob's in the Oregon District.

Restaurants around the country are struggling to hire workers to keep up with all the customers who want to eat in person again.

The National Restaurant Association says two and a half million restaurant jobs were slashed during the pandemic. Now restaurants are trying to hire more people again to keep up with growing demand.

“Hi Siena! I haven’t forgotten you! Still looking for cooks!”

That’s Emily Mendenhall. She co-owns Lily’s restaurant and Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District. She says Lily’s expanded their hours just this week and Blind Bob’s is scheduling live music again. But, she says, they also discussed possibly closing for one day that week because they didn’t have enough staff.

“Literally we are designing our business hours around what we can staff in the kitchen," Mendenhall said. "So I can’t even say how understaffed I am, because we can’t even get the hours to where they need to be.”

Federal labor data shows that while food serviceemploymenthas been growing every month this year, the food serviceunemploymentrate is still almost double the national average.