DC-area restaurants struggle to fill open positions

People eat outside during the lunch hour at a restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Starting Friday, Washington D. C.s local government has dropped its coronavirus capacity limits for most businesses operating in the city. Bars and nightclubs around the city will still operate under a 50% capacity limit until June 11. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Even as things get more back to normal, many local businesses are having trouble finding enough people to work. It’s been especially hard for D.C.-area restaurants.

Ashish Alfred owns Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda, Maryland.

“People are either scared to come back to work because they may not be vaccinated yet, or they might be vaccinated but somebody in their home may not be vaccinated. So they don’t want to bring something home,” Alfred said,

Alfred has also decided to close his restaurant two days a week, so the employees he does have don’t get overworked.

Alan Pohoryles owns Tommy Joes, which is also in Bethesda. Many of the employees that worked for him for 16 or 17 years are also not coming back.

“I’ve lost a lot of good people. When the pandemic first hit and businesses were closing, I laid off my whole staff so they’d be able to collect unemployment, not realizing that would come back to bite me a little bit,” he said.

Pohoryles said some workers are not coming back because of continued concern over COVID-19, and others because they are making enough money with unemployment benefits.

“People that are not coming back because they are getting paid by the government not to come back are the ones that bother me,” said Pohoryles.

Alfred said he hopes the pandemic reignites people’s love for eating out, and that restaurant owners who didn’t treat their employees well before, turn over a new leaf.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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