The boss of a chain of Indian restaurants says salary inflation is making it impossible for him to recruit chefs – leaving his business facing the prospect of operating at 50% of its capacity over Christmas.
Sharif Uddin, owner of the Kushi chain of Indian restaurants in London and Essex, plus DUSK fine dining fusion restaurant in Brentwood, has felt the full impact of staff shortages and is concerned about the festive season.
Getting hold of chefs is giving him a major headache ahead of what would normally be the busiest period of the year.
“In terms of kitchen staff, skilled quality chefs aren’t on the market for the salaries that make our restaurants viable,” he said.
“Trying to recruit young people to train is like trying to locate the proverbial needle in a very large haystack. Most would prefer to be trained at large chains who can offer better starting salaries, offer structured training programmes and career progression with shorter shifts and more desirable working hours.”
New data from recruitment site CV Library shows that job postings for roles in the hospitality sector were up 26% month-on-month in October, and there was a huge 383% increase compared to the same month last year.
A recent report by the online training provider, High Speed Training, found that a third (33%) of the public feels that roles in hospitality offer little progression and are not considered ‘careers for life’, with further negative perceptions around low salaries and workplace stress.
Mr Uddin said recruitment was just as much of a problem front- of-house as it is for kitchen roles.
“Staff shortages mean we cannot get skilled professional front of house staff so currently we are making do with what is available and filling gaps with students,” he explained.
“The impact of this is huge in terms of front-of-house service. The basics of serving etiquette you cannot teach in a day. Often by the time you train them they have found better opportunities and unskilled work elsewhere and they move on, so the cycle starts again.
“These factors mean you can only deliver to the maximum capability with the staff you have, taking on less custom to make sure you are satisfying customers and not overworking staff.”
Mr Uddin said Christmas will not be the same as it was before the pandemic. “It’s normally the busiest period in the hospitality sector, but with the severe staff shortages we will only be able to operate at half of our usual capacity.”