RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Triangle Restaurant Week is back.
It’s meant to celebrate restaurants while offering deals on three-course meals.
Only about three dozen places are participating around the Triangle this year. In January 2020, more than 40 restaurants took place in the event.
“I think the challenge we’re seeing right now, particularly with the Triangle Restaurant Week, is that these restaurants simply don’t have the workers to meet demand,” said Lynn Minges, president/CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Minges said demand is spiking.
A study by Zenreach says foot traffic is up 44 percent nationwide since the beginning of the year, with people wanting to dine and shop.
“They’ve been eager to get out and dine at restaurants, they’re looking forward to connecting with family and friends, who’ve we’ve all missed during the pandemic,” said Minges.
She said restaurants don’t have the staff to serve them, as the industry is down 70,000 workers in the state right now.
“I think they’re cognizant of the fact they don’t want to underperform, they don’t want to disappoint guests,” said Minges.
Carolina Ale House took part in Triangle Restaurant Week last year but isn’t this year.
Not because of staffing issues, but because they’ve been busy catering to a sports crowd.
“Sales have just been constantly going up and up, especially now with all the playoff games going on, with the Hurricanes in, it’s just been exciting,” said senior manager Robert Stewart at Carolina Ale House.
They have offered signing and referral bonuses along with offering a 401K program to attract workers.
Many others are doing the same.
“The highest wages we’ve ever seen in our industry,” said Minges. “Many with signing bonuses and benefits, 401Ks, paid sick leave. There’s never been a better time for folks to join the industry.”
Before the pandemic, the foodservice and restaurant industry employed about a tenth of the state’s workforce, according to NCRLA.