Iowa restaurants continue to navigate COVID challenges


ANKENY, Iowa — The Labor Department reports that the U.S. unemployment rate slightly declined in August. Iowa restaurants are working hard to attract employees.

Fiesta Jalapenos restaurant opened two months ago in Ankeny. The store manager, Noe Garcia, says it was difficult hiring staff.

“It was tough because we would have a lot of interviews,” said Garcia. “Then they didn’t show up, so we were short-staffed all the time in the beginning, so it was hard at first.”

Other restaurants are also dealing with shortages. The Iowa Restaurant Association says various restaurants are struggling to survive after the 2020 shutdowns.

“The number one reason people cite for slowing their recovery is the inability to find workers. And folks can’t afford to pay the people they do find, so we’re really seeing the worker shortage and the increase of wages impacting our industry,” said Jessica Dunker, the president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

While some states have added restrictions due to the Delta variant, Iowa’s restaurants are open for business.

“Iowa has and continues to be doing very well compared to other states. I’m very glad that I represent Iowa’s restaurants because more of us survived and made it through to the other side than other states,” said Dunker.

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