As we return to normal, many people seeing longer wait times at restaurants

Posted at 6:49 AM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 06:49:31-04

(WXYZ) — Business for metro Detroit bars and restaurants is increasing as we get further out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some establishments, that means longer wait times and perhaps frustrated customers. Ongoing staffing shortages may be to blame.

Drive by any popular restaurant that offers dine-in on the weekend in metro Detroit and you're bound to see an overflow of people waiting for a seat.

Some people found that dining out in recent months has often come with a new reality of waiting a bit longer.

"These parking lots look like Cedar Points parking lots sometimes, as far as the restaurants now. So that's another thing about me too. I'm just trying to get what I'm gone get and then I'm out," Charles Taylor said.

"I mean, the latest I've had to wait was about 45 minutes but that was for a freakin' cheeseburger. Cheeseburger and some fries," Joey Dauer added.

"It's frustrating though because sometimes we'll go to a restaurant. It's like a 45-minute wait and we're hungry so we got to find somewhere else to eat. Now we got to drive to a whole other place so that's irritating," Shafone Worthy said.

Alexis Moore, the manager of The Morrie in Royal Oak, said she's not sure if longer wait times are occurring because of staffing shortages or because more people just want to get out and have a good time.

"Our normal wait time is anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes on a late-night, just because since we're back to full capacity and everyone is looking for that late-night entertainment venue and they are ready to get out because they've been stuck inside," Moore said.

She said a lot of staff stayed with the establishment during the pandemic, while others sought new opportunities.

To attract new employees, she said The Morrie created a referral program for existing employees.

"We have all hands on deck all the days that we're open," Moore said.
George Xenos, the owner of Estia Greek Street Food, said he's increased wages to competitive rates and he's been successful at attracting workers.

"Traditionally, restaurants have not paid well. And I think the pandemic was perhaps a wake-up call to a lot of restaurant workers. They saw that there are other opportunities outside of the restaurant industry," Xenos said.

But, he said he managed to get ahead of longer wait times. One, he said more people are ordering out, and now his business uses an app to fulfill takeout orders.

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