As much as we would like to believe that things are returning to normal after a year of shutdowns, quarantines, and business closures, we know we are far from the end. And one of the things that is on the minds and at the forefront of restaurant and business owners these days is how to keep the doors open when they don't have enough employees to work. And that is affecting an annual event in our capital city.

One of the casualties of the staff shortages is the annual Restaurant Week in Baton Rouge. According to organizer Chris Brooks, the popular event had to cancel this year due to extreme labor shortages in the restaurant industry. Amid concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they are just going to skip this year and hope for the best by possibly moving the event to January 2022.

The bi-annual Restaurant Week is a way to let food-related businesses offer specials and other incentives to welcome customers during what is traditionally their slowest time of the year. It was supposed to kick off on July 26th this year.

Mestizo restaurant owner Jim Urdiales tells BR Proud that one of the reasons he wasn't going to participate this year was due to soaring food prices. “Since the beginning of the year food prices, especially protein prices, have been up anywhere from 25 to 40 percent." He said it was making it difficult to catch up from the past year's shutdowns and lost sales, and he could not meet demands for a menu special with limited staff. Uridales is planning to offer higher wages and incentives to lure more workers, and he is hopeful that things will turn around for his industry soon.


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