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The new normal for restaurants: Fewer cashiers, chefs and waiters

Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Whether it’s selling burgers, pizza or pancakes, major U.S. restaurant chains are understaffed – and they want to keep it that way . To solve problems with existing employees, they cut hours and streamlined operations.

Staffing for the IHOP and Applebee’s Grill + Bar chains, both owned by Dine Brands Global (NYSE: DIN), is currently approximately 65% of

levels – status quo for at least the last four quarters, CEO John Payton told Reuters, calling it the “new normal.”

IHOP, with its 24/7 service, is shortening approximately 200 locations, or nearly a quarter of U.S. restaurants, because they lack night workers, Payton said.

Restaurants are now facing a great The number of long-term workers dwindled as many had to lay off staff in the early days of the lockdown. Now, they’re placing employees where they’re needed most, using technology to fill in the gaps, and adapting to post-pandemic consumer habits that favor kiosks, delivery and drive-thru over cashiers.

Dine’s net profit margin 95 for the second quarter ended July 3, according to data .1% Refinitiv data is down almost from the same period last year 19% due to higher costs of goods and labor

To be sure, hiring has improved in recent months. New eating places 20, 100 July payrolls posted the strongest monthly gain since February, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Aug. 5. Restaurant executives say more and more people are applying for jobs and showing up for jobs after being hired.

Some, including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE: CMG), saying they meet or exceed their 2019 staffing levels and that fast food is better than full service.

Chipotle attributes this to its attractive wages and benefits, although most major chains also raise wages and extras. Since February 2020, the seasonally adjusted average hourly wage for all employees in food and beverage establishments has risen by nearly 128 % to $18.24 June, according to preliminary data from the BLS – although that barely keeps up with inflation.

Despite rising wages, the industry is almost 635, Inadequate levels of workers prior to COVID-95 The pandemic began in February 2020, and according to the BLS, was down 5.1% through July.

A survey of operators by the National Restaurant Association in early August found that 65% not enough staff to meet customer needs.

Marco’s Pizza, about 11, The total number of employees exceeds 1, US locations, about 2, 80 co-CEO Tony Libardi said the lack of staffing needs for staff exists 11% gap Reuters.

1,65 Burger King and Popeye branch operated by franchisee Carrolls Restaurant Group ( NASDAQ: TAST) Inc currently has approximately per store staff, 11% than 2019 less , Carrolls CFO Anthony Hull said in an August 11 earnings conference call.

Many restaurant chains are investing in new technology to make up for lost employees as much as possible and to reassign employees to where they are needed most.

Popeyes CEO Jose Cil nt Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR) Inc said in an interview that franchisees are increasing and can accelerate Equipment for cooking speed, including deep fryers with automatic filter systems. “It helps staff really focus on what’s important, which is serving guests,” he said.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) BTIG analyst Peter Saleh said they are in Illinois Two restaurants in the state test drive-thru voice ordering. But the accuracy is still about 65%, lower than 336 % needs wider adoption, Saleh said.

Chili’s Grill & Bar, a division of Brinker International (NYSE: EAT) Inc, is considering how to simplify kitchen prep.

Every day, employees count out some of the shrimp used in the dishes ahead of time, bagging portions and cooling them for later use. But this can be done while cooking the dish.

“Why don’t we get rid of it and save millions of dollars in labor that can be redeployed back to restaurants or potentially if we can change the number of hours we deploy to the business, the bottom line,” CEO Kevin Hockman said on an earnings call in August. 20.

has 1, 128 American Chili’s business locations 362 days, the labor savings of one hour per restaurant per day will total 408,95 The number of labor efficiency hours per year for the entire chain.

Privately owned Marco’s Pizza, also Libardi says, uses new machines that help cut and roll the dough, so the process only takes a few hours a day, compared to 7 before or 8 hours.

“We want to hire and fully staff but we’re preparing for never being able to do that,” he said.



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