Students must be patient as SU foodservice grapples with labor shortages


Thanks for your patience. We do our best to serve you as soon as possible. We appreciate your kindness and understanding during this national labor shortage.

These familiar words can be seen on signs in Syracuse University’s five dining halls. This mantra is not unique to SU, however. Similar phrases were displayed in storefronts across the city of Syracuse and around the world.

Since March 2020, the National Labor Council shortage wreaked havoc on many businesses after the first US lockdown due to COVID-19. While it’s easy to become frustrated with slow service, delays, and closures, SU students should be patient with businesses in SU and the greater Syracuse area.

Marshall Street, for example, is no exception to the recent battle over staffing shortages. Businesses are in the midst of an ongoing struggle to maintain sufficient numbers of employees and keep operations running smoothly.

Ken Zhou, a recent SU graduate and current employee of Chimac Chicken House, spoke about the labor shortage his restaurant is experiencing. Students returning to campus and looking for work has been a good thing for many businesses close to campus like Chimac Chicken House.

“Since COVID came, we’ve been understaffed,” he said. “Now it seems like more students are looking for jobs, so it’s gotten a lot better.”

Sophia Lucina, a freshman at SU, said she recognizes the importance of Marshall Street to SU students.

“Being able to go to the same restaurants with friends or study is a way for me to find my place within the Syracuse community,” she said.

Additionally, Salt City Coffee, a contemporary cafe located on University Avenue, just around the corner from Marshall Street, has also faced these issues over the past year. Site Manager Kelcey Foster expressed her gratitude to all Salt City Coffee employees.

“I’m very grateful to all of our hard-working employees that we currently have and I’m excited to hire more staff as we grow as a company,” she said.

Although some of the small businesses on Marshall Street seem to be recovering from the economic downturn, other Marshall Street restaurants like Chipotle and Sweet Basil are still struggling to cope with the lack of employees. At the entrance to Chipotle, a sign informs passers-by that the restaurant will close early at 8 p.m. until at least October 4.

At SU, the ramifications of the labor shortage are also significant. Susan Bracy, the residential dining manager, said SU’s dining rooms have been hit hard by the labor shortage.

“Food Services is operating with fewer employees than in previous years,” she said. “While we continue to work diligently to hire more team members, we have adjusted some of our operations and hours of operation to ensure we have the appropriate staff to support our customers.”

Bracy also said Food Services never stops hiring students. Students should consider applying not only to help SU Food Services, but also to help their fellow students have a smooth dining experience.

The SU student body has always been one to come together and rally through the toughest times in history. This past year is no exception. Through it all – a pandemic, a nationwide shutdown, and the uncertainty of the future – many of us are all here right now, together. Students should remain patient with businesses still grappling with labor shortages and other issues caused by the pandemic as they continue to recover.

Julia Kahen is a freshman in news, magazine, digital journalism and political science. His column appears every two weeks. She can be reached at [email protected].


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