GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Patio dining and sidewalk seating might be off-limits at some of your favorite restaurants this summer.
Staffing struggles are forcing owners to change up where they serve you and how many people they welcome into places every night.
When the weather heats up, nothing beats sitting outside in a huge patio area with some friends to grab a drink or bite.
Unfortunately, some restaurants won’t fill all their outdoor seats. It’s not because people won’t show up, but because they just don’t have the staff to serve people inside and outside.
“If you want to sit outside, we will just make you wait,” said Chloe Lester, bartender at Bites + Pints Gastro Pub in Greensboro.
Waiting is what a lot of people will be doing when dining out. At Bites + Pints, staff is down two servers and three cooks.
“When the back of house gets overwhelmed with tickets, we’re looking at a 30-minute ticket time, and we’re not able to get food out to our tables in the time that we need to,” Lester said.
It’s a bigger struggle when large parties arrive. Chuck Trowbridge has made tough decisions when it happens at Sammy G’s Tavern in High Point.
“Unfortunately, we have to turn them away because it’s going to be an hour, hour and a half wait,” said Trowbridge, who is the general manager at the Tavern.
He’s operating with a bare-bones crew as customer traffic increases. The Tavern is booked up for Easter morning brunch. Trowbridge knows his staff will be busy.
“We’ve done our best to try to hire. We just…can’t keep people,” he said.
Their shortage means a seating struggle for you.
“Not always can we accommodate people that want to sit outside because if we’re super busy, it’s hard to do both inside and out when we don’t have enough staff to do both,” Trowbridge said.
Restaurant workers rely on tips, and summer is a hot time for them. They hope service and quality of food don’t suffer.
“Making sure that we give people great service and good food,” Trowbridge said. “That’s our number one thing. But having that staff in order to do that is an issue that we’re worried about. We don’t want to just throw something on the plate…because we want customers to come back as much as possible.”
Keep the kitchen staff in mind when dining out during the busy season and when big events are in town.
“They tend to get slammed with our full patio and our full inside especially when concerts come into town,” Lester said.
The advice workers and managers gave people at several restaurants across the Piedmont Triad is to make a reservation, especially if you have a large party.