It certainly seems like a couple of times a month over the last several months, we've got a report of another business in the Lafayette area closing. One of the biggest industries impacted by rough economic times is always the restaurant industry, and we've seen more than our fair share of those closures as well.

Part of the problem businesses around the country - including in Lafayette - have been facing is a worker shortage. Quite a few restaurants and businesses in the area have struggled with that in some way since the COVID-19 pandemic forced closures throughout the state (and country).

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

But there is good news on the restaurant front. According to one nationwide group, the number of restaurant workers throughout the country could be ballooning this year.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has looked at recent and historic labor stats, and they believe that as many as half a million workers could be returning to our nation's restaurants in 2023, among other positive findings.

  • Growth will continue: The foodservice industry is forecast to reach $997B in sales in 2023, driven in part by higher menu prices.
  • Industry help wanted: The foodservice industry workforce is projected to grow by 500,000 jobs, for total industry employment of 15.5M by the end of 2023 and surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
  • Rising costs create challenges: 92% of operators say the cost of food is a significant issue for their restaurant.
  • Competition is heating up: In 2023, 47% of operators expect competition to be more intense than last year.
  • Consumers want restaurant experiences: 84% of consumers say going out to a restaurant with family and friends is a better use of their leisure time than cooking and cleaning up.

As far as the workforce projections go, the numbers come from government reports on job growth in the country. A "majority of those new jobs (about 300,000) will be concentrated in restaurants," explains, "specifically, according to projections based on historical U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data."

Prejean's in Carencro, under the ownership of Tim Metcalf, recently expanded into Broussard.
Credit: Google Maps

A recovering restaurant market is already evident in Lafayette. Prejean's, under the ownership of Tim Metcalf, has expanded into Broussard with its second location. Other restaurants are seeing signs that growth is there and are also moving in.

Villager's Cafe in Maurice, for example, is opening a second location in Youngsville.

A big boost of workers into the restaurant scene helps local business owners a lot - they can help turnover tables at a faster rate, help current employees by taking some of the load off their shoulders and decreasing burnout, and eventually helping more of that business growth and expansion in the area.

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