Fewer menu options as worker shortage bites restaurants

Striking meals off the menu is one of the ways businesses are responding to an ongoing worker shortage in Western Australia as peak tourism season looms.

Key points:Border closures are one contributing factor to an ongoing worker shortage in WAAn Albany pub has resorted to reducing food options on its menu while it finds more chefs A nearby winery has closed its restaurant while more staff are recruited

The closure of state and international borders, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, has contributed to a lack of workers across a range of sectors.

Anton Davey owns popular Albany pub Six Degrees and last April reduced the restaurant's menu by half.

He anticipated restoring the full menu after Easter but was unable to.

"It kept staying busy and staff were short," Mr Davey said.

He recently made the decision to cut the menu even further.

"We just simply have no choice," he said.

Main street of Albany with cars and street lights
Businesses are still looking to fill a worker shortfall going into the peak tourist season.(ABC Great Southern: Mark Bennett)

Seeking 'FIFO chef'

As part of the menu reduction, the venue's burger offerings were reduced from 10 to four while the tapas meals went from 16 to 10.

"We don't have enough staff in the kitchen to prep and keep up [with orders] on the line," he said.

"We haven't been able to put those meals on the table fast enough."

Mr Davey usually employed seven chefs but currently had four on the books.

"If a chef walked through the door tomorrow, I would be snapping them up," he said.

He advertised for a "FIFO chef" to try to attract people from Perth but that was less than ideal as paying for flights would see "expenses go through the roof".

Temporarily closed for business

Meanwhile, west of Albany at the popular tourist town of Denmark food is completely off the table at In Cucina restaurant.

Part of Castelli Estate winery, which also offers accommodation, the restaurant opened in mid-September and would usually stay open until June during the busy holiday period.

However, management announced a closure in August saying it would reopen when it hired more staff. 

Hundreds of restaurant bookings for September and 50 per cent of accommodation reservations were cancelled.

Restaurant manager Giovanni Longo said while the winery's cellar door remained open, up to six staff were still needed to reopen In Cucina.

While chefs, kitchen hands, and wait staff were some of the business's job vacancies, Mr Longo was not picky.

a man stands in a restaurant
Chef Giovanni Longo would normally be busy at this time of year, but In Cucina restaurant remains closed due to a lack of staff.(Supplied: Castelli Estate)

"We are just wanting to find some staff; they don't have to be skilled," he said.

Mr Longo said the main reason for the worker shortage was that borders were closed, and that the problem would only improve once borders reopened.

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Posted 29 Oct 202129 Oct 2021Fri 29 Oct 2021 at 10:15pmShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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