NYC restaurants are struggling to find workers as Covid restrictions are lifted, Danny Meyer says

Restaurants in New York City are finding it hard to hire workers as restrictions related to Covid-19 are being eased across the country and demand within the industry picks up, restauranteur Danny Meyer said Wednesday.

“Nobody can hire back all of their workers even if they wanted to because many of our workers have left the city,” Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack founder, told “Closing Bell.” “Everybody is hiring at the exact same time. It is going to take, per my judgement, at least two or three months for supply and demand to keep up with each other and to hit an equilibrium.”

Demand for restaurants has been coming back in New York City as more people get vaccinated. Rules around social distancing and mask-wearing have also been eased as the number of new cases in the country keeps falling.

“Vaccination has probably been the greatest thing that has happened for our industry, both for the people who work for us and for our guests,” Meyer said.

But restaurants are still struggling to hire staff to replace those they were forced to let go of at the beginning of the pandemic, he added. Not only is there a limited supply of restaurant talent as many restaurants rush to hire, but some workers may have left the industry altogether.

“Many people who were laid off took work instead in businesses that were actually doing quite well during Covid,” Meyers said. “They may have very good jobs right now and they may or may not back come to our industry.”

Meyers did say that restaurants still have time to hire new staff since offices are not occupied at full capacity, resulting in a slower lunch business.

(With inputs from CNBC)