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Staffing at Ohio restaurants still down about 10-20% as Valentine's Day nears

Representatives with the Ohio Restaurant Association say while staffing numbers have improved over the past year, many businesses are still not at full staffing.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Valentine's Day is one week away, and if you're trying to plan the perfect date, time is of the essence.

Restaurants are anticipating more people to go out on Valentine's Day, and in the days surrounding it this year than compared to the past few Valentine's Days. Because of that, restaurants are highly encouraging reservations to allow staff to prepare as best they can.

Representatives with the Ohio Restaurant Association say staffing levels are starting to improve at restaurants across the state, but that many businesses are still short.

“We just can't get enough people to come back into the workforce, it's not just our industry, but ours because we need so many people! We need 585,000 total people just to service all the restaurants in Ohio,” said John Barker with the Ohio Restaurant Association.

New numbers from the Ohio Restaurant Association’s most recent employment survey show staffing levels at restaurants across the state are still down about 10% to 20% compared to where they were before the pandemic. Barker said there’s a good chance customers notice this when they visit their favorite restaurant, even in small ways.

“Because you see servers looking very busy and tables sitting empty. And that's probably not going to change in the near term,” said Barker.

Another major problem restaurants are running into is the cost of many basic items, like eggs. Don't be surprised if prices, especially at bakeries, are a little bit higher this year because of that.

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