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Many restaurants lack staff as restrictions lift

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With Michigan fully reopening on Tuesday, restaurants can now operate at 100 percent capacity—however, for many establishments in West Michigan, having enough staff on hand is the new challenge as the pandemic ends. 

“So, everyone is very happy to have the mask mandate lifted, we took down all of our plexiglass for our bar, that was really nice, just a big feeling of normalcy, honestly.”

Brittany Perez is the Assistant General Manager at the Lake House Waterfront Grille and Event Center, one of Muskegon’s top-rated restaurants. She says, with that excitement of reopening at full capacity, comes with it the anxiety of not having enough staff to handle the volume.

“There is definitely a staffing issue, it is mostly the cooks, (so) people have to be patient,” Perez said. “It takes longer than people expect sometimes when there is only three to four people back there making it all,” she said.

So, like many businesses across the state of Michigan who are facing a lack of workers, Perez says The Lake House is adding incentives to attract job applicants.

“Right now, what we are doing, is a $2-dollar bonus on top of your normal hourly pay, just to get people in the door, and it lasts all summer,” Perez said.

On top of that, she says, monthly bonuses for workers if they show up for every shift, or don’t call in sick.

In order to encourage people to go back to work, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last week purposed extending unemployment benefits until September to those who go back to work, however, Republicans in Lansing have largely rejected the idea.