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"A socially necessary industry": Restaurants, hotels still struggling amid labor shortage

Restaurant workings sanitizing tables while wearing masks.
Adobe Stock

More than 80% of Michigan’s restaurants and hotels don’t have enough staff. That’s according to a new report from the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association.

That inadequate staffing has caused nearly 60% of Michigan’s hospitality businesses to operate on fewer hours and days.

A large majority of the restaurants and hotels surveyed in this report have also raised their prices in the last year.

Brendon Edwards owns Metropolitan Bar and Kitchen in Detroit, which opened during the pandemic.

He says before the pandemic it cost $36 dollars to change fryer oil, twice weekly. Now it ranges from $70 to $100 dollars.

"Some of those things that most people don’t think about, you order a burger and fries, well your fries just went up in price because that oil costs a lot of money," he said.

Cauliflower. Frying oil. Wine and whiskey. Edwards says everything costs more and so he’s raising the menu prices. He’s worried about the next months, but hopeful his restaurant will make it.

"We’re part of the best parts of people’s lives. Meeting a first date or meeting old friends. So in terms of necessary industries, I think we’re a socially necessary industry," he said.

The Association says the state needs to train a new hospitality workforce. And it hopes to partner with the Legislature and governor to do that.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.