A staff shortage at a Florida steakhouse forced the owner to become a full-time chef tasked with cooking around 200 steaks a day.
Jay Johnson, owner of Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon in Cape Coral, told Insider in an interview that he works eight-hour shifts seven days a week to fill gaps in his workforce. There should be 12 people working in the kitchen, but there are only nine.
“For five months I was also the meat cutter in addition to working a night in the chain kitchen,” Johnson said, adding that he had just hired an 18-year-old girl and taught her to cut meat.
The biggest challenge for Bubba’s is staying open and caring for customers, Johnson said. The steakhouse had to close on Monday because there were no workers available after Johnson readjusted the schedule so that all staff would work on Father’s Day, one of the restaurant’s busiest days.
“Customers absolutely suffer if we’re understaffed,” Johnson said. “We have slower service and that’s impacting customers.”
On weekends and busy days, Bubba’s prepares about 200 steaks, along with other dishes, Johnson said. On Father’s Day, the restaurant produced up to 400 steaks, he added.
The Department of Labor says the Florida minimum wage is $10 an hour, while tipped employees should be paid $6.98 an hour, according to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Johnson pays his kitchen staff $13 an hour and his front desk staff $7 with tips, but said they can earn between $150 and $200 a day, while bartenders can earn up to $400 $ per day. Everyone gets paid for overtime, he added.
The understaffing meant Bubba had to remove various items from the menu on some nights and operate without a hostess to greet guests at the door, Johnson said.
Bubba’s staff are exhausted from the six-day schedule that one worker even quit because he was exhausted, Johnson said. Other employees left because they were going back to college, moving house, and some were fired because they weren’t the right fit for Bubba, he added.
Johnson said the labor shortage has improved for him over the past few months, but Bubba is still not full, which continues to make things difficult.
“I would be happy to be able to get out of the kitchen every day,” Johnson said.