Mother's Day business boom ray of hope for restaurants, despite staffing struggles

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Restaurant owners and managers said sales expected from Mother's Day weekend could bring numbers they haven't seen since before COVID, but staffing up for the rush is a struggle.

And it's not just the food industry seeing the business boom.

"We've been getting 25 trucks a week unloading plants and as soon as we get them in, it's selling out. People just can't get enough," said Jennifer Brennan, Chalet Nursery and Garden Center.

The desire to treat mom has translated to a busy weekend ahead.

"For Mother's Day, we're packed," said Ozzie Godoy, general manager of Carnivale.

"There's a huge demand for reservations, more than I've seen in the past," said Relu Stan, owner of Fulton Market Kitchen.

The sound of ringing phones and the sight of full reservation books is more than welcome to restaurant owners and managers.

"To see the light at the end of the tunnel, you know, it's just, it's unbelievable," Stan said.

"We're more than excited and we're more prepared, and we just can't wait," said Godoy.

But restaurants are finding it challenging to get back the workers to staff the increase in patrons.

"We're gonna open additional days and as we're going to get more demand, then we may need some additional staff," Stan explained.

Stan has enough staff now to keep operations going, but it was a challenge to get there.

"I kind of felt like in February, March, April the increase for jobs and the resumes coming in dropped drastically," he said.

Godoy said they had to bring their old staff back in phases, but had to accommodate scheduling to the new jobs their former employees took on during the pandemic.

"'I see you have a better gig there, I see you're at Amazon and so you're in this industry, come back part time now,'" he recalled. "We had to flex tremendously."

Overall, the challenge has been worth it for these business owners, especially now that people are back inside their restaurants with the promise of a full reopening weeks away.
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