Richmond area restaurant group short 200 employees, hopes changes bring people back to work

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va (WRIC) – A number of restaurants across Central Virginia are facing a staffing shortage, causing many employers to get creative with attracting more workers to apply to their restaurants.

The Boathouse at Sunday Park has the same issue as other restaurants in the area: they are short-staffed.

The HOUSEpitality Family, the restaurant group that includes the Boathouse restaurants, said they need about 200 employees and hopes changes they’ve made will help them bounce back.

“Everybody is in the same storm,” said Emmy Finch, director of human resources, training and development for the company.

All eight of the restaurants under the HOUSEpitality Family group have been unable to serve lunch. She said it’s because they just don’t have enough workers.

“If you want your favorite restaurant to stay in business in Richmond, then you have to be patient with how we are reconstructing the system.”

In July of last year, they began offering a higher wage for servers, adding a 20% service fee for customers to help pay their workers.

Now, servers for the company make an average of between $20 and $25 an hour.

“We’re hoping that some of the benefits that the government is giving subside a little bit to get people out of that zone of not wanting to work anymore,” Finch said.

The Boathouse customer and former restaurant worker Tori Hance says requiring an automatic tip to pay restaurant workers more will allow servers to earn a living wage to be able to pay the bills. (Photo: 8News Reporter Sabrina Shutters)

Tori Hance, a regular at The Boathouse at Sunday Park, said she has worked in the Richmond restaurant scene for more than a decade. Some of her employers included Three Monkeys, Lunch and Supper, Weezie’s Kitchen and Dot’s Back Inn.

Hance said the changes will allow restaurant workers to have a living wage, as well as help HOUSEpitality Family staff their restaurants.

“I think it provides a little bit more of a baseline for people to pay their bills,” Hance said.

A note on each table at The Boathouse describes what the service fee is and why it will help servers, cooks and other restaurant workers earn a living wage. (Photo: 8News Photographer Paul Nevadomski)

In addition to the pay raise, Finch said if customers leave more than the required 20% tip, that money will be split up between the employees.

“When the staff is taken care of, then the restaurant, the customers, everyone is taken care of,” Hance said.

Right now, no employees under the HOUSEpitality Family make less than $12 an hour. By the end of the year, the company’s goal is to have everybody making at least $15 an hour.

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