Richmondshire hospitality businesses facing dire staff shortages

Leo Morris, manager of the Saddle Room.

Hospitality businesses in Richmondshire are facing severe staff shortages with business owners having to reduce opening hours to ease the pressure on workers and warning they may have to shut if the situation does not improve.

Industry experts say a combination of factors including the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have come together to create a perfect storm for pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Recruitment website Indeed features dozens of local vacancies for chefs and other kitchen workers, bar and waiting on staff, cleaners and housekeepers.

Numerous businesses are also using social media in a bid to try and recruit new staff.

Leo Morris runs The Saddle Room restaurant in Coverdale.

He has taken the decision to shut on Mondays and Tuesdays due to staff shortages.

He said there were “simply not enough people to fulfil the hospitality job market”.

“It is not acceptable to sacrifice my staff and make them work a 60-plus hour week for the
business.

“We are really trying our best to recruit staff and I have never invested so much in advertising, however there are simply not enough people to fulfil the hospitality job market.

“Britain has long relied on foreign workers in its multibillion pound hospitality industry, with
hundreds of thousands coming from the EU and others from further afield — at present this
cannot happen.”

Leo said workers also knew that if they moved jobs to fill vacancies, they could fall between the furlough gap.

“The last couple of times we have gone into lockdown, we have had a number of people who
joined not long before lockdown and then didn’t qualify for government help.

“It means they cannot pay rent.”

Susan Briggs, who runs the Tourism Network, which offers support and advice to tourism and hospitality businesses in North Yorkshire, said a combination of factors had caused the problems.

“I think you’ve got a combination Covid, Brexit and businesses having to train staff up in order for them to be effective

“The problem is execrated by the fact that young people who often take on these hospitality jobs don’t have transport and therefore don’t have means to get to the jobs.”

Susan said hospitality businesses were also finding they needed more staff due to the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic.

She added that in some cases waiting on staff were having to walk up to ten miles per shift due to tables being spaced out, which made the job less appealing.

The Farmers Arms in Muker is one of numerous pubs affected by the staff shortages.

The owners have taken the decision not to serve food outside on their popular patio until staffing improves.

Owner Andy Gascoigne said in a statement to customers: “If the situation becomes overwhelming for all concerned, then we may take the decision to restrict numbers or close the pub until we have the staff in place to operate professionally.

“We have tried over the last three months, at much cost to recruit individuals/couples to help us run this iconic public house with no luck whatsoever.”

Emma Bottomley, manager of The Station Cafe Bar in Richmond, said they had recently advertised for a new chef but just got one response.

“Fortunately the one we got we hired and is working out.”

Emma said she felt they were in a better position than some as they furloughed their staff at the start of the pandemic.

She added: “There are some businesses which let their staff go and are really struggling to take people on.”

3 Comments

  1. The hospitality industry has got away with low wages for such a long time. I know I have worked in it as a chef. I am really not suprised at all that they can’t recruit

  2. We advertised in Catterick and got lots of interested people. Provide regular bus services from Richmond/Catterick areas up into the tourist areas eg Wensleydale Swaledale at times suited to working in hospitality businesses. Early mornings late evenings. It would also help with transport to colleges and sixth forms. That would help !! Build more houses as soon as possible . Many people would love to live and work in the Dales –

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