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Letter: Food staffing shortage article chronicles real-world realities

As a restaurateur, I need to comment on the April 6 front page piece “From chefs to servers, staff is in short supply” by food editor Andrew Z. Galarneau. This struck a chord with me. It’s a dilemma not just for fledgling entrepreneurs but seasoned owner-operators as well.

In 2006, I opened my restaurant in the village of Williamsville, where I discovered staffing was my most imperative concern even after extensive advertising and pursuing connections in the business.

A prep cook, graduate from Paul Smith’s College and a local kitchen assistant recruited from a prominent eatery both turned out to be disastrous hires. Then, desperately, I hired anyone who provided even remotely acquired hands-on experience, as several weeks prior to opening I was sorely minus a professional staff.

From there on in, the business became family run. I prepped all day, met with beer, wine and provisions distributors, made desserts, served tables up, down and outside then closed at midnight. My husband drove in daily from his job in Rochester to arrive promptly at 6 p.m. despite traffic snafus, manned the stove, plated dinners and washed dishes. By contrast to the revolving door of employees, a young special-needs art instructor from Allentown applied for work.

She prepared salads, served soups, desserts and drinks, cleaned off tables and resurrected my perspective. One day, she suggested we participate in “Restaurant Week,” which we reluctantly agreed to. The sales and exposure to our unique German and Polish menu were so successful that we cut her a percentage of our profits.

The pertinent information provided by The News food editor was not only precisely stated but also provided warnings, I feel, for those foolishly toying with the romantic notion of opening a restaurant. Trust me, no one shares your unproven and costly dreams.

Janice Schlau


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