Texas needs more than 100K restaurant workers as shortages still impact industry

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’ve gone out to eat lately, you may have noticed some of your favorite restaurants have signs about long wait times or limited hours, that’s because many places are experiencing staffing shortages.

How many openings are there in Texas?

“We estimate between 100,00-125,000 workers still being sidelined,” said Joe Monastero, chief operations officer of the Texas Restaurant Association. “What that means is positions are available, but people that had them we aren’t exactly sure if they chose to go into a different industry chosen to go back to school or expand their education.”

To fight back, some companies have turned to apps that help with customer service by allowing customers to order from the table without a server taking the order.

“A lot of restaurants have always had the server, runner model where someone is taking your order and someone else is taking you the food. With this technology, it allows you to be more in a fast-casual environment,” Monastero said. “We have gotten used to the QR codes over the last two years, but this is taking it one step further.”

Waterloo Ice House has depended on great customer service over the last 45 years, but it looks a little different these days said Clayton Evans, the restaurant’s chief operations officer.

“The customer just sits down at the table and we have a QR code assigned to each table,” Evans said. “So the food knows where it is going, the drinks know where they are going.”

Waterloo has adopted new technology, Order and Pay at the table or OPT. Instead of giving your order to a server, you just use your phone.

“People seem to like to not have to wait on anyone or come to you and still have that service person bring everything,” said Shanna Moore, the bar manager at Waterloo Ice House off Loop 360.

While scanning QR codes might have been new at the beginning of the pandemic, more restaurants have turned to the practice.

“The main point of this really is it allows the customer to come in and even if we happen to be a little slower one day, we don’t have to close down tables and make people wait outside for a table,” Evans said.

Evans says it also adds to the customer experience by allowing them to order when they want and not feel rushed.

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