Worker shortage kills Barnegat, NJ, restaurant
Another popular New Jersey restaurant has been claimed by the ongoing COVID pandemic and worker shortage.
Big Barlow's BBQ & Catering in Barnegat is closing, citing staffing issues and increases in food prices. The owner posted the news on Facebook, saying, "We have lost far too much money over the last 7 months to make a comeback."
Big Barlow's is not alone in these struggles. You would be hard pressed to find any restaurant that does not have a help wanted sign in the window. As the state opened up for the summer season, there was hope of recouping a year's worth of pandemic losses.
But while they had permission to fully reopen, restaurants did not have the staff. Price increases and supply shortages made the situation worse.
Many believe the worker shortage is fueled, in part, but the continuation of enhanced unemployment benefits. There is at least anecdotal evidence that many restaurant and hospitality workers who lost their jobs when Governor Phil Murphy shut the state down, are opting to remain home.
The worker shortage has forced businesses to offer higher wages and signing bonuses to maintain even minimal staffing levels.
Those enhanced benefits expire in September, and many businesses are hoping that will force more people back into the working world, easing the shortage. For many businesses it will be too late, as the increased costs and lack of employees force them to close.