Michigan restaurant with staff on trip to Puerto Rico to say thank you

  • A Michigan restaurant owner said she was taking employees to Puerto Rico as “a little extra thank you.”
  • Some employees cried when she told them about the trip, the owner of Coty’s Landing told MLive.
  • Restaurant workers say they are burned out and overworked due to the labor shortage and pandemic.

The owner of a restaurant in Saginaw, Michigan, takes almost half of her employees on a trip to Puerto Rico to show appreciation in the face of the labor shortage.

Theresa Miller, who owns Coty’s Landing, said MLive that in January 18 she is taking the longest-serving employee of the restaurant as “a little extra thank you” on the free trip. The restaurant has a total of more than 40 employees, she said.

“I thought it would be a nice little give-back,” Miller told the publication. Some of her employees cried when she told them about the trip, she added.

Restaurant staff have already faced stressful working conditions, exacerbated by both the pandemic and the labor shortage. Workers have had to grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks and clashes with customers who refuse to wear masks or adhere to social distancing guidelines.

This, coupled with generally low wages and poor social benefits across the industry, has created a huge labor shortage, with a record number of restaurant workers leaving their jobs. It has made working in the industry even more difficult as the remaining staff are overworked and burned out, and customers are complaining about slower service.

Restaurants have adapted to their staff shortages by reducing their opening hours, closing their dining rooms and raising prices. They have also raised wages or offered perks such as sign-up and retention bonuses, health benefits, and free food to try to keep staff levels up.

“I try to make regular bonuses and especially Christmas bonuses and all that good stuff when I can, but nothing like that on that scale,” Miller told MLive, speaking of the Puerto Rico trip. “It’s well deserved. You’re doing a good job. You treat this place like it’s your own.”

Miller, who closes the restaurant for a week while the staff is away, bought Cody’s Landing in 2015. She said nearly half of her employees have been there for at least three years, including many who have worked there for at least five years.

“I have a lot of respect for them and their daily work,” said Miller. “I just want to show them that it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Do you have a labor shortage story? Email this reporter at [email protected]

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