This Week in CT: Local restaurants facing staff shortage, looking to boost outdoor dining

This Week in Connecticut

Pre-pandemic, Connecticut’s restaurant industry was one of the fastest-growing in the state. Now, it’s declining, as restaurants struggle to fully staff dining rooms.

Before the pandemic, the restaurant industry took in $9.1 billion a year. The estimated revenue lost is now up to $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

About 600 restaurants shut their doors over the course of COVID. there are about 8,000 in the state, but the ones that closed were mostly mom and pops’.

Before the pandemic, the industry boasted about 160,000 workers in the state. Now, there are 75,000 to 80,000; forty-thousand short of what’s needed.

The worker shortage is marking itself apparent at places like Plan B in Simsbury. The dining room is closed because of inadequate staffing, but customers can still order take-out. The restaurant is down at least three line cooks and two bartenders.

Plan B in Simsbury is currently closed Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s open from noon to 8 p.m. every other day. No other Plan B locations are affected.

Connecticut towns and cities are doing what they can to help the struggling industry like the “Summer Saturdays” initiative in New Haven. The event started last year as a way to give a boost to businesses during the pandemic. Every Saturday throughout the summer, some shops and restaurants will offer deep discounts.

Twenty-two shops and restaurants are joining in the fun across all different neighborhoods, from Broadway to the Ninth Square District. They are even offering discounts on parking too.

In the video above we also talk to West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor about the plan to read more outdoor dining spaces in the town.

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