Shortage bites at Breakers

Shut on Sundays due to lack of staff.

Shut on Sundays due to lack of staff.

RECRUITING: Breakers Restaurants national chief executive Stefan Burt needs more Gisborne workers. Picture supplied

A “critical” shortage of hospitality workers has forced a Gisborne restaurant to stay shut two days a week, leaving the owners “incredibly frustrated”.

Breakers Gisborne, in Childers Road, is closed on Mondays but will now also be closed on Sundays until further notice because of a lack of suitably skilled workers.

Breakers Restaurants Ltd chief executive Stefan Burt described the situation as “regrettable” and “incredibly disappointing”.

“In my 20-plus years in the hospitality industry as an owner and franchisee, I’ve never not opened the doors of a restaurant due to a lack of staff.”

The problem was affecting the industry nationwide and when three senior staff called in sick last Sunday before the restaurant was due to open, the company made the unprecedented decision to keep the doors closed for the day.

“It’s a decision we didn’t want to have to make, it’s a decision that cost us money and lost trade, but it was made in the best interests of our customers.

“We simply did not have the staff to cover the unexpected absences.”

Mr Burt said the Hawke’s Bay-based company had undertaken extensive recruitment campaigns and offered pay rates in excess of the minimum wage, but still could not find enough suitably skilled and qualified candidates to fill key roles, including those with their Manager’s Certificate or with previous commercial kitchen experience.

Hospitality staff shortage ‘dire’

“The shortage of hospitality workers is not confined to Gisborne, it’s an ongoing problem we battle in other regions we operate in — but it’s a problem that is now critical.”

Burt said a decision had since been made to temporarily reduce the trading hours of Breakers Gisborne to five days a week, from Tuesday to Saturday, to protect the health and wellbeing of staff.

However, the restaurant would open for Father’s Day on Sunday, September 1.

“If we can’t find extra staff to employ, then we need to protect the physical and mental health of our existing employees.

“We don’t want them to burn out. It’s that simple.”

Mr Burt aired his concerns about the staff shortage with Napier-based MP and Minister for Business Stuart Nash, after requesting a face-to-face meeting earlier this year.

However, he was now concerned about what impact the Government’s move to merge the country’s polytechnics would have on addressing the skills shortage, and called on the Government, education and training providers and industry bodies to work harder to reinforce the fact that hospitality remained an attractive career option.

“There would be very few restaurant workers only making minimum wage right now, and hospitality is one of the few industries where you can earn-while-you-learn skills that can get you a job in nearly any part of the world.

“Hospitality is a great career path on so many levels, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

The company will be advertising for staff for its Gisborne restaurant in Saturday’s Gisborne Herald.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce chief executive Terry Sheldrake said the situation was evidence the chamber’s involvement with hospitality trainer QRC (Queenstown Resort College) was the right move for the region.

“There is presently local promotion via QRC, which is establishing a hospitality course in conjunction with our local wananga. Also, EIT offer a hospitality course.

“If we can take advantage of the predicted growth in local tourism numbers then, as people complete these hospitality-specific courses, more trained staff will become available.”

Hospitality NZ regional manager Alan Sciascia said the situation in Gisborne, and elsewhere, was “dire”.

“I also cover Bay of Plenty, Hamilton, Waikato and the Coromandel, and right throughout my territory there is a dire shortage of hospitality workers — and I’m getting similar reports from elsewhere around the country.

“It’s quite a conundrum . . . . The hospitality market is relatively buoyant, people like to go out to have a meal or a drink, and that requires staffing.

“In a typical hospitality business, a third of its income goes out in labour costs. So there’s a significant number of staff required to service the customers coming through.

“The demand is there — the supply is not.”

A “critical” shortage of hospitality workers has forced a Gisborne restaurant to stay shut two days a week, leaving the owners “incredibly frustrated”.

Breakers Gisborne, in Childers Road, is closed on Mondays but will now also be closed on Sundays until further notice because of a lack of suitably skilled workers.

Breakers Restaurants Ltd chief executive Stefan Burt described the situation as “regrettable” and “incredibly disappointing”.

“In my 20-plus years in the hospitality industry as an owner and franchisee, I’ve never not opened the doors of a restaurant due to a lack of staff.”

The problem was affecting the industry nationwide and when three senior staff called in sick last Sunday before the restaurant was due to open, the company made the unprecedented decision to keep the doors closed for the day.

“It’s a decision we didn’t want to have to make, it’s a decision that cost us money and lost trade, but it was made in the best interests of our customers.

“We simply did not have the staff to cover the unexpected absences.”

Mr Burt said the Hawke’s Bay-based company had undertaken extensive recruitment campaigns and offered pay rates in excess of the minimum wage, but still could not find enough suitably skilled and qualified candidates to fill key roles, including those with their Manager’s Certificate or with previous commercial kitchen experience.

Hospitality staff shortage ‘dire’

“The shortage of hospitality workers is not confined to Gisborne, it’s an ongoing problem we battle in other regions we operate in — but it’s a problem that is now critical.”

Burt said a decision had since been made to temporarily reduce the trading hours of Breakers Gisborne to five days a week, from Tuesday to Saturday, to protect the health and wellbeing of staff.

However, the restaurant would open for Father’s Day on Sunday, September 1.

“If we can’t find extra staff to employ, then we need to protect the physical and mental health of our existing employees.

“We don’t want them to burn out. It’s that simple.”

Mr Burt aired his concerns about the staff shortage with Napier-based MP and Minister for Business Stuart Nash, after requesting a face-to-face meeting earlier this year.

However, he was now concerned about what impact the Government’s move to merge the country’s polytechnics would have on addressing the skills shortage, and called on the Government, education and training providers and industry bodies to work harder to reinforce the fact that hospitality remained an attractive career option.

“There would be very few restaurant workers only making minimum wage right now, and hospitality is one of the few industries where you can earn-while-you-learn skills that can get you a job in nearly any part of the world.

“Hospitality is a great career path on so many levels, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

The company will be advertising for staff for its Gisborne restaurant in Saturday’s Gisborne Herald.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce chief executive Terry Sheldrake said the situation was evidence the chamber’s involvement with hospitality trainer QRC (Queenstown Resort College) was the right move for the region.

“There is presently local promotion via QRC, which is establishing a hospitality course in conjunction with our local wananga. Also, EIT offer a hospitality course.

“If we can take advantage of the predicted growth in local tourism numbers then, as people complete these hospitality-specific courses, more trained staff will become available.”

Hospitality NZ regional manager Alan Sciascia said the situation in Gisborne, and elsewhere, was “dire”.

“I also cover Bay of Plenty, Hamilton, Waikato and the Coromandel, and right throughout my territory there is a dire shortage of hospitality workers — and I’m getting similar reports from elsewhere around the country.

“It’s quite a conundrum . . . . The hospitality market is relatively buoyant, people like to go out to have a meal or a drink, and that requires staffing.

“In a typical hospitality business, a third of its income goes out in labour costs. So there’s a significant number of staff required to service the customers coming through.

“The demand is there — the supply is not.”

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James Parker - 2 days ago
Crap food anyway.

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