Two local restaurants each share how they’re trying to solve worker shortage

Dublin Square Irish Pub in La Crosse closing every Monday, Garden of Eatin' in Galesville doing outdoor dining only due to low staff

(WKBT) – Restaurant staffing is improving ever so slightly, but still below normal levels.

The National Restaurant Association says as of last month, restaurants are still 10 percent below pre-COVID employment levels.

If you’re a restaurant manager right now, you’re just trying to figure out how to stay open.

“All we’re asking is to find some employees that can give back to us, so we can give back to the community,” Dublin Square Irish Pub general manager William Gaines said.

Gaines says the restaurant has tried almost everything to hire people, from high starting wages, to signing bonuses, to flexible scheduling.

“But it’s just getting them to stay with the job and continuously show up,” he said.

So the pub has no other choice but to close every Monday for the time being.

“Our staff, you know the staff that we do have, you can’t overwork them,” Gaines said. “You know, burnout does exist.”

At least Dublin Square can provide both indoor and outdoor dining.

The Garden of Eatin’ in Galesville is doing outdoor dining only because¬†they only have two workers right now: a husband and wife.

“We just really work together, and we do whatever it takes,” co-owner Amy Hembd said.

Hembd will tell you it’s physically and mentally exhausting.

“But it’s all worth it, because we’re still here,” she said.

They’re finally starting to pull in some applicants. They just want to make sure they are the right ones.

“There’s wonderful people out there,” Hembd said. “We just have to (say), “Come and apply!”

It doesn’t matter if the Garden of Eatin’ has two people on staff, or 20 because Hembd says she and her husband will continue to push through any limits to keep their passion alive.

“We’re ready to adapt to whatever situation we have to,” she said. “But we are not going away.”

Outdoor dining isn’t the only problem limiting the Garden of Eatin’s business. Hembd says she’s had to cut down on hours as well.

Right now, they are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Usually they’re open Tuesdays through Sundays from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Hembd says she’s hoping to open for indoor dining again by the fall, but that’s if they can find enough people by that time.

Meanwhile, Gaines says he’s hoping Dublin Square can open up seven days a week again by the end of July.