You don’t have to go far around here to find good restaurants. But our restaurants are having a heck of a time finding good cooks.
There’s a shortage, it turns out, of cooks, dishwashers, and other “back of house” restaurant staff in cities all over the country. And Seattle — the fastest growing city in America — is getting hit hard.
“If you come to the interview, and you’re not a sh*t show, I am going to hire you, because I am desperate for competent help,” reads an exasperated and anonymous restaurant job post on Craigslist that’s been making the rounds within the industry. (The post appears to be from Ballard, but there’s no telling who’s behind it — we emailed to ask, but no one’s emailed back.)
What’s going on here? We’ve heard several theories: There are too many restaurants. It’s too expensive to live here on a low wage and too much of a hassle to get into the city if you don’t.
Let’s look at the numbers.
Seattle has about 2,500 restaurants — 500 more than we had a decade ago — and the number is spiking. So many new restaurants are opening just this summer, in fact, that The Seattle Times actually included the phrase “Can you believe it?!” in the headline of this story.
Meanwhile, the gap between staff supply and demand in the industry is enormous. According to this state report, food service companies in Seattle and King County needed 3,955 prep and serving staff in June. But the supply of people to fill those jobs? It was just 634.
What does this staff shortage mean for Seattle restaurants? It means positions aren’t being filled, other staff are picking up the slack, and managers are getting frustrated and in some cases, exhausted. Little Uncle, a Thai restaurant in Capitol Hill, cut back its hours temporarily last summer because they were short staffed. Now they’ve told their customers they’re closing for lunch every day but Friday.
“Closing for lunch is a big deal as we have an abundance of lunch business, but we just need a break,“ co-owners and co-chefs Wiley Frank and Poncharee Kounpungchart told us. “We have had two open cook positions for a year. We have occasionally hired some to fill these positions, but they do not last more than a month.”
Read more about Seattle’s cook shortage — including what people think is behind it and what one organization is doing about it — at theevergrey.com.
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🗣 8/3: Sanctuary Stories: What’s Happening in Seattle?
🖼 8/3-6: Seattle Art Fair
🎨 8/3-27: Out of Sight 2017
⚓️ 8/4-6: Seafair Weekend Festival
🎉 8/4-6: Umoja Fest 2017
👑 8/5: Adventure Hunt
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It’s National IPA Day (yup, that’s a thing) and a few bars are putting on events to celebrate the summery beer. Reuben’s Brews in Ballard, Teku Tavern in Queen Anne, and Flatstick Pub in Pioneer Square and Kirkland will be pouring the cold stuff on a hot, hot day.
We’ll see you tomorrow. — The Evergrey