Virginia restaurants struggle to hire staffers amid vacillating pandemic

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 12:36 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Restaurants are having difficulty hiring back employees through the ebb and flow of the pandemic; they’re also struggling to handle less-than-patient customers amid the staffing shortage.

COVID-19 forced about 20 percent of Virginia’s restaurants to permanently close their doors, according to Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association.

Now that the nation has seen some resurgence of social life, many eateries and take-out spots are finding themselves hard-pressed for help.

Terry said some laid-off restaurant workers are still dealing with the confines of childcare, schooling at home and being comfortable returning to a high-contact environment.

COVID-19 case levels continue to fluctuate due to the more contagious Delta variant and cases are currently on the rise in Virginia.

“Some people have permanently left the industry,” Terry said.

Virginia restaurant owners are looking to fill positions, from line cooks to servers. There are currently approximately 88,000 open jobs in restaurants and hotels statewide, Terry said.

The staffing shortage has also triggered a noticeable rise in angry and even violent outbursts from customers, across the country.

Apt Cape Cod restaurant owners Brandi Felt Castellano and her spouse, Regina Felt Castellano, closed for a “day of kindness” after multiple instances of unacceptable behavior from customers.

“As many of our guests and patrons treat us with kindness and understanding, there have been an astronomical influx daily of those that do not, swearing at us, threatening to sue, arguing and yelling at my staff, making team members cry,” the owners wrote in a Facebook post. “This is an unacceptable way to treat any human.”

Customer satisfaction has plummeted, according to a report from NBC Nightly News. Marketing firm Lisa W. Miller and Associates found that 43 percent of those surveyed said they were frustrated with staffing shortages, 66 percent were concerned over increasing prices, and 50 percent said that masking wasn’t being enforced.

“There is a very challenging workforce shortage happening, particularly in our food and hospitality industries.,” said Diana McMahon with the RVA Retail Merchants Association. “The best thing we can do as a community to support these businesses is to patronize them, but remember to have patience and empathy. Those that have returned to the workforce are dealing with burnout from being overworked, which is compounded in the hospitality industry by inconsistent or uneven traffic flow. Businesses need stabilization in the workforce. But until that happens, customers have to adjust their expectations.”

Federal pandemic benefits are set to end in early September. This could push more laid-off people back through restaurant doors.

The VRLTA currently has a job board listing more than 50 restaurant positions, many in the Richmond area.

If you are a restaurant, bar or business in the food industry and are hiring, email the job post or a link to your website/contact information to, to be added to the following list of open RVA restaurant jobs. Please include the name of your restaurant, open positions and how folks should apply.


Olive Oil Taproom, Midlothian,,

Olive Garden, Restaurant #1896, Short Pump,

Mission BBQ, Richmond, Midlothian,

Sticky Rice, Richmond

Tropical Smoothie, Richmond, Glen Allen

Bar Solita, Richmond,,

Max’s on Broad, Richmond,

Tarrant’s West, Richmond,,

Casa del Barco,

Taco Bell,

Toast, Henrico, Richmond, Powhatan,

Great Harvest Bread Co., Midlothian,,

Local Vibe Cafe, Old Towne Petersburg,,

Penn Station East Coast Subs,, Henrico, Midlothian, Bon Air

Brandermill Country Club, Midlothian, contact: John Christman,

Birkdale Golf Club, Chesterfield, contact: Reid Griffin,,

Hanover Golf Club, Ashland, contact: Doug Frankie,,

Corner Bakery, Glen Allen,

The Daily Kitchen & Bar, Short Pump, (804) 360-3800,,

West Coast Provisions, Short Pump, (804) 360-1090,,

Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, Richmond, Careers - Colonial Downs + Rosie’s Gaming Emporium (

The Boathouse, Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Grow With The HOUSEPitality Family (

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