Restaurants under pressure with staffing shortages ; while labor leaders and advocates demand more pay for tipped workers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The staffing shortage continues to impact local restaurants and some restaurants are getting impatient customers.

“We actually had people walk away mean and nasty, because we couldn’t seat them right away. We’re short of staffed,” said Caren Paterniti owner of the Howling Rooster. “Have patience. Everyone in the industry, that’s open, is working hard and we’re doing the best that we know how. “

As far as what she thinks is causing the staffing shortage. 

“People are sitting home, because they’re getting paid to sit home. There’s plenty of jobs out there. It’s not that we’re not paying enough. We’re paying what we were paying in 2019, nothing has changed,” Paterniti said. “The only thing that has changed is the government is letting people sit home and collect unemployment.”

Labor groups and some state leaders disagree.  Assembly Members Jonathan Rivera and Monica Wallace were at Spot Coffee in Buffalo Monday afternoon to push the issue.

They say tipped workers should be getting a regular minimum wage pay. 

“Tipped workers are some of the hardest working lowest paid workers in the country and a third of them live in poverty,” said Wallace. “So, while they serve us food, they go home many of them and feed their own family with food stamps.”

“It really has to do with wages,” Rivera said. “We need to pay employees more, we need to do more to sustain this economy.”

“We are doing the best that we can with the limited amount of staffing and shorter hours, but our bills are still the same,” said Paterniti. “So, to tell me that I have to increase pay for someone, because they should make more is insanity. Because in 2019 everybody was happy.”

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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