While restaurants all over the country have reported troubling hiring and keeping staff, few places have felt the pinch as much as the Florida Keys. This is, in part, because scarce housing and volcanic rises in rent have priced many people out of the area.
Many people who work hospitality jobs in the Keys work long hours or even multiple jobs to cover the costs of housing. Meanwhile, strained restaurants are having to shorten their open hours to cope with the lack of people around to work them.
Marathon Grill and Ale House is among the restaurants that has recently had to cut down their open hours. They posted to their Facebook page:
Here at Marathon Grill and Ale House we proudly, and with vigorous effort, have remained open 7 days a week for our loyal clientele. Unfortunately, the national, and local, labor shortage got the best of us at this moment. We assure you that as soon as our continued efforts to hire suitable employees comes to fruition we will again open our doors 7 days. Thank you for understanding.
Other restaurants that have cut open hours include Herbie's Bar & Chowder House, which is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 9:00 PM, and Sparky's Landing, which is now closed on Mondays and open for an abbreviated 11 AM to 3 PM day on Sundays.
What This Means for Visitors and Diners
With fewer venues open and staffing tight, visitors to the Keys should understand that wait times will typically be longer. This is especially true as the area's busy season heats up.
Planning to visit restaurants midweek, when more local venues are open, can also help reduce wait times and help visitors avoid crowding.
Most of all, be patient and flexible. On a recent Facebook thread about wait times in restaurants, one commenter posted, "I’m sure they are doing the best they can to take care of as many people as they can."
"Exactly," concurred a local restaurant employee. "We're trying our best."