To our Beloved Guests,
I haven’t written much since the end of lockdowns in Nashville. The team and I have been head down, trying to figure out how to serve you well amidst all the changes. I hope we’ve succeeded.
I feel it’s time to slow down and write for two reasons. First, I want to thank you. Thank you for coming to Stay Golden, whether once or one hundred times. Your support means the world to me and my team. I know it’s cliché, but it’s also completely true. We would not exist without you. Thank you so much for choosing Stay Golden. It’s our honor to serve you.
Second, I want to invite you into an ongoing conversation inside our industry. It’s really important that you, the guest, is involved because ultimately it affects you. If you haven’t already experienced changes in your restaurant experiences, you will. And I think you should know why.
Like many other industries COVID and the ongoing challenges on the world stage (inflation, war, etc.) has impacted food service in huge ways.
HERE'S WHAT WE ARE FACING:
LABOR MARKET CHANGES
Over the last 12 months restaurants have struggled to hire. I'm sure you've seen the "Hiring" signs everywhere. I won't pretend to know exactly why industry professionals have not returned to the workforce. I'm not entirely sure. All I know is that folks looking for stable, consistent work in the restaurant industry have their pick of jobs. They are finding them and keeping them.
So what of the other group of people? Those in the industry not looking for stable positions? Well, many are waiting for wages to increase more. The trouble is that wages in food service have out paced inflation by almost for points. The latest information shows that restaurant wages have increased over 12% in the last fiscal year. That's great for employees. Trouble is that it's unsustainable for restaurants that largely operate on slim margins. Usually, 10% or less. This means that folks holding out for more will not return to the workforce.
Then there's another group of industry folks. This is a group of people who have transferred their labor into the gig economy. A number of restaurant focused apps have popped up promising to connect vetted industry professionals with restaurants. Restaurants can post shifts and get qualified people to fill empty spots in the schedule. This is great for temporary employee because they can pick and choose the shifts they want. However, it's completely unsustainable for restaurants, because for every dollar you spend on wages for that posted shift, the app charges $0.40. Additionally, they create competition among restaurants for the employees on the app, driving the wages of a shift higher and higher. So, if I post a dishwasher shift for $15 an hour, then after the 40% mark up I'm paying $21 per hour to have dishes washed. Sadly, this is completely unsustainable and will eventually put restaurants out of business.
At the end of the day, these changes in the labor market are causing pain not just for business owners but also for the loyal employees that want to stay within the industry.
Due to understaffing, current BOH team members are burning out at an alarming rate. Literally 100% of our team has considered or is currently considering finding a new job or leaving the industry entirely. The only reasonable solution is for stable people who want to work to enter the restaurant industry again.
Let's look at it this way. If we can't fill our schedule then our staff will burn out. If they leave, we can't replace them. If we could then we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place, right. With little to no kitchen staff we would be forced to reduce our menu to a few items. Or, not serve food at all. Either option kills our revenue and likely forces a closure.
Sadly, this is the experience of all the restaurants we know of in Nashville. We've heard from fine dining and fast casual places alike. They are one line cook away from having to limit hours and menu or both.
SUPPLY CHAIN & INFLATION
I don't need to spend too much time on these two items. I think everyone is feeling the effects of supply chain issues and inflation. Right? I'm mean I'm finding that my local grocery can't always keep my favorite things in stock. When they do have them, the price is going up.
It's the same stuff for restaurants. All of our food, paper products, supplies, everything is costing more. Once our vendors tack on delivery fees to cover the price of gas, we are feeling it in a bad way.
Sadly, many restaurants have not survived the “new normal.” Still many more will fail in the coming days. So, right now we are diving deep into our numbers. We are creating new ways to staff, write menus, and think about our numbers in order to remain a viable business. We want to continue serving our guests to the best of our ability.
HERE'S WHAT WE ARE DOING
Ultimately, we have to remain extremely flexible and understand that what we are experiencing is temporary. That said, when we make a change wether subtle or dramatic we believe that it will be short lived. Here are some things we are doing this week to help support our hard working team.
This is our least favorite thing to change. We all have our favorite meals and it's always scary to mess with this. What if we lose business because guests can't continue to get their favorite lunch item or breakfast plate? I want you to know that we care about you and we don't take changing our menu lightly.
In order to help our kitchen staff keep up with demand, we will be TEMPORARILY limiting our menu options. We are actively hiring. The quicker we can get stable people onto our staff, the quicker we can get back to normal.
YOU CAN HELP! If you know anyone looking for stable work, please send them our way. We pay well and work in a healthy and fun environment. Full timers receive robust benefits and everyone eats a meal on the house every shift.
Dishes pile up fast in a busy restaurant. Operating without a dishwasher puts immense pressure on the kitchen staff as they have to slow down service to get dishes done. Otherwise, they might not have plates for all the orders coming through. Starting this Thursday, we will start serving all meals on disposable plates. Again the quicker we staff our kitchen, the quicker we can get back to normal.
OTHER STUFF WE ARE CONSIDERING
Essentially, we have to be open to all options in this ever changing environment. We are holding tight to our heart to serve each other and our guests. Everything else we have to hold loosely. That said, you might see Stay Golden lean on particular options to help us get through these crazy times. You might see us:
Permanently change hours
Adjust Prices - we only do this when we absolutely have to.
Temporarily close for a day here or there
Basically, everything is on the table.
If you've read this far, thank you so much. Thank you for your care and for your attention. Both are so valuable to me. Our goal is to always serve you and our community well. We strive to create meaningful relationships and hospitality experiences with every guest that walks through our doors.
Thank you for your continued loyalty and understanding as we navigate this crazy time on planet earth. Don't hesitate to reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
I love you Nashville.
Stay True, Stay Golden,