Monterey businesses struggle to fill openings as tourists return to the peninsula

Monterey restaurants are ramping up for its first summer post-pandemic by hiring more staff, but not all businesses have been successful at attracting and retaining employees. “I think we may see even more people. After we’ve seen people staying home for two years, they’re hungry to get out and hungry to be outside with other people. Where can you do it more beautifully than Monterey?” Rick Johnson, the executive director for the Old Monterey Business Association, said. Petra Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant, is one of many restaurants in downtown Monterey that have hung hiring signs in their windows. Normally, Petra Cafe tries to set up a table on the road during Tuesday’s farmers market that happens right outside their storefront. Due to inadequate staffing, they’ve had to forego the opportunity and have also had to change store hours on a few occasions. Just next door, Full Moon Mandarin Cuisine has also adjusted its store hours. Some Starbucks locations throughout the Central Coast and the San Francisco Bay Area, have decided to change store hours too, sometimes the day of, due to inadequate staffing. “Yes, we do have staff as far as the macro, when we look at it. But certain restaurants may be having certain challenges than others. But the important thing to remember is that they are able, and they need to be able, to refine their business model,” Rick Johnson, the executive director for the Old Monterey Business Association, said. Not all restaurants have struggled to attract and retain employees during and after the pandemic. Many well-known, established restaurants in Monterey, many of which are family operations, have successfully stayed afloat and increased staff.Kevin Phillips, managing partner, co-owns multiple restaurants, one of which is Albonetti Bar and Grill on Fisherman’s Wharf. He says his employees commute from out of town, and stay at his restaurants for a long time. During the pandemic, Phillips paid his employees who were unable to work. “We’ve had employees who’ve been here for decades in some of our restaurants, and they find the quality work environment and they’re paid the market rate and they enjoy where they work,” Kevin Phillips, managing partner at the Albonetti Bar and Grill, said.At the popular breakfast restaurant First Awakenings, management uses a required services charge for large parties to help increase staff’s tip payment and has recently changed their tip structure. “They started something different during or after COVID. They started pooling. Where before they did all make their own tips, but now they’ve gone to a pooling system because they all look out for each other so it’s worked out for them and they seem to be making better money,” Craig Bell, owner of the First Awakenings, said.According to Visit California, about 21,600 jobs in Monterey are supported by travel. Foodservice is one of the largest drivers of revenue in the city, second to the hotel industry.

Monterey restaurants are ramping up for its first summer post-pandemic by hiring more staff, but not all businesses have been successful at attracting and retaining employees.

“I think we may see even more people. After we’ve seen people staying home for two years, they’re hungry to get out and hungry to be outside with other people. Where can you do it more beautifully than Monterey?” Rick Johnson, the executive director for the Old Monterey Business Association, said.

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Petra Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant, is one of many restaurants in downtown Monterey that have hung hiring signs in their windows.

Normally, Petra Cafe tries to set up a table on the road during Tuesday’s farmers market that happens right outside their storefront. Due to inadequate staffing, they’ve had to forego the opportunity and have also had to change store hours on a few occasions.

Just next door, Full Moon Mandarin Cuisine has also adjusted its store hours.

Some Starbucks locations throughout the Central Coast and the San Francisco Bay Area, have decided to change store hours too, sometimes the day of, due to inadequate staffing.

“Yes, we do have staff as far as the macro, when we look at it. But certain restaurants may be having certain challenges than others. But the important thing to remember is that they are able, and they need to be able, to refine their business model,” Rick Johnson, the executive director for the Old Monterey Business Association, said.

Not all restaurants have struggled to attract and retain employees during and after the pandemic.

Many well-known, established restaurants in Monterey, many of which are family operations, have successfully stayed afloat and increased staff.

Kevin Phillips, managing partner, co-owns multiple restaurants, one of which is Albonetti Bar and Grill on Fisherman’s Wharf. He says his employees commute from out of town, and stay at his restaurants for a long time.

During the pandemic, Phillips paid his employees who were unable to work.

“We’ve had employees who’ve been here for decades in some of our restaurants, and they find the quality work environment and they’re paid the market rate and they enjoy where they work,” Kevin Phillips, managing partner at the Albonetti Bar and Grill, said.

At the popular breakfast restaurant First Awakenings, management uses a required services charge for large parties to help increase staff’s tip payment and has recently changed their tip structure.

“They started something different during or after COVID. They started pooling. Where before they did all make their own tips, but now they’ve gone to a pooling system because they all look out for each other so it’s worked out for them and they seem to be making better money,” Craig Bell, owner of the First Awakenings, said.

According to Visit California, about 21,600 jobs in Monterey are supported by travel. Foodservice is one of the largest drivers of revenue in the city, second to the hotel industry.

Contributed by local news sources

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