Tyler restaurant owner talks challenges of opening at full capacity


TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Like many other restaurateurs in Texas, the owners of East Texas Brewing Company want to operate their venue at full capacity but find doing so challenging due to a lack of workers.

Eating and drinking places are the largest component of the restaurant and foodservice workforce, according to the National Restaurant Association, and were projected to provide more than 12 million jobs during 2020. Because of the pandemic the National Restaurant Association says they finished 2020 nearly 2.5 million jobs below their pre-coronavirus level, about 20 percent. Annie Gilstrap, the owner of East Texas Brewing Company says when they first opened back up, with limited capacity, they didn’t need a large staff.

“We were able to handle it with a small amount of people. But now that we’re getting larger groups of people coming in and we’re busier and busier each week, we are now absolutely hiring in all positions,” Gilstrap said.

There are a few contributing factors to the struggle restaurants are seeing including unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, keeping previous employees financially stable for the time being. Gilstrap said they’re not the only ones in this position.

“I know there’s a lot of restaurants going through the same thing right now because everybody is back open at full capacity and everybody’s hiring,” she said.

A few weeks ago another owner’s sister was brought in to help.

“I’ve come on, have been doing some interviews, and doing the scheduling, and just try to help make the front more efficient by getting in the right team members,” Gilstrap said.

Gilstrap said that with fewer people working from home and more back in the office, their lunch rush is picking up.

“So now that everybody is back at work, we’re having these big lunch crowds and unfortunately having problems with enough team members to handle those rushes,” she said.

Gilstrap said they are still able to operate at normal hours and full capacity, but owners have been working extra shifts to help keep service flowing.

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