• Kirk Gaw

Memo's Needs Workers Temporarily Closed Until Staff Found

By Kirk Gaw

It was a sudden shock for many of the hundreds of local regulars who frequent Memo's Restaurant located at 1120 Roosevelt Rd. on the eastside of Walkerton. They placed an ad this morning notifying their base that they are short staffed from their waitresses in the dining room to their knowledgeable short order cooks in the kitchen. The owners and management were upset about the recent phenomenon happening all across the nation!

Restaurants from New York City, Indianapolis, South Bend, and Los Angeles are having difficulties finding employees! When states went into lockdown and US restaurants were ordered to close their doors in spring 2020, many establishments let workers go. From March to April of last year, restaurants and bars lost 5.5 million jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That meant millions of people found themselves out of work essentially overnight.

Those jobs are coming back: Restaurants and bars added about 176,000 jobs nationally in March. But the sector was still 15%, or about 1.8 million jobs, below the pre-pandemic employment level, according to the National Restaurant Association. It's not just casual, independent restaurants like Memo's that are feeling a labor pinch. The CEO of Darden Restaurants (DRI), which owns Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen and other chains, recently called hiring the company's "number one priority." "Our greatest challenge right now is staffing," Darden CEO Eugene Lee said on a call with analysts late last month. Before the pandemic, Darden had about 165,000 active hourly employees, he said, but as of a few weeks before the call that number was down to about 115,000.

This afternoon I was able to speak to Fernando Dominguez a spokesperson for "Memo's House of Pancakes" headquartered in Michigan City. They also, run their flagship operation at 1714 E US Highway 20 west of Johnson Rd. before Marquette Mall. Fernando said, "The plan is to reopen once, Memo's hires the preferred staff for the kitchen and front of the house." He added, "The owners have a few words after they read the overwhelming response from their morning Facebook post." They said, “We love Walkerton and appreciate the community and its support!" "We feel bad and are forced to close but, will be reopening once, the staff team is full and ready to serve Walkerton the best food and service they can.”

Guess, it looks like for the time being they will be searching for qualified applicants who are ready to serve with the "Memo's" team and loving Walkerton community? Let's hope it won't be long.

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