AZ Restaurant Boss Scraps Items to Keep Staff Happy

Robert C. Williams
  • Restaurant boss Skyler Reeves has axed some complex menu items to keep staff happy, per the FT. 
  • Vivili Hospitality Group is trying to hold onto its workers during the labor shortage. 
  • The company is also asking staff to spend less time washing dishes.

An Arizona restaurant owner has scrapped some menu items that are frustrating to prepare to stop his staff from leaving during the US labor shortage. 

Skyler Reeves, owner of Vivili Hospitality Group, which runs restaurants in Prescott, Arizona, told the Financial Times that he’d made several changes to his business to try to keep staff happy. As well as cutting certain items, Reeves has invested in new equipment to make dishwashing easier, and started a new rota that reduces the time workers spend scrubbing, he said. 

“People used to compete for these jobs,” Reeves told the FT. “Now we take anyone who comes in.” 

Reeves didn’t specify which menu items he’d scrapped.

The restaurant industry has struggled to find enough workers in recent months to keep up with customer demand. In April, job vacancies across all industries hit 9.3 million — the highest in 20 years, falling only slightly to 9.2 million in May, according to Labor Department data. 

The labor shortage has led some restaurant owners to hike wages and offer sign-on bonuses to entice employees.

There are signs hiring is picking up: Food services and drinking places added 194,000 jobs in June, accounting for more than half of all job gains in leisure and hospitality industries that month, per Labor Department data.

Read more: I’m a millionaire businessman who was arrested for protesting with restaurant workers. We demand better wages for the employees running our economy.

Vivili employs more than 125 people across five restaurant chains in Arizona, according to its website, and in May began offering to pay its employees their full college tuition to attract workers.

Reeves told Fox Business in an interview that, before making the offer, Vivili had received “almost zero” applications for vacant positions, but got more than 40 after publicizing the tuition scheme. 

Reeves told Fox Business that he thought government unemployment benefits were a major reason for the worker shortage. 

“If you can make the same amount of money sitting at home or washing dishes or prepping food for 40 hours a week, you know, what are you going to do?” Reeves told Fox Business. “We are competing against the government in a certain way,” he said, per Fox Business.

Many have welcomed workers’ increased bargaining power in the tight labor market — but some fear this could wane once the federal government cuts off weekly $300 unemployment benefit on September 6. 

Vivili did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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