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‘We’re sharing staff’: Dallas restaurants impacted by labor shortage, in need of job applicants

At Khao Noodle Shop off Bryan Street in Dallas, the owner, Chef Donny Sirisavath, is having a hard time finding new employees for his Laotian restaurant.

DALLAS — The restaurant industry is feeling the impact of the nationwide labor shortage.

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor released data showing the number of job openings reached a high of 9.3 million at the end of April.

At Khao Noodle Shop off Bryan Street in Dallas, the owner, Chef Donny Sirisavath, is having a hard time finding new employees for his Laotian restaurant.

He used to open six days a week before the pandemic. And now, even though stores are back at full capacity, he only has enough staff to keep his doors open from Wednesday to Saturday.

"We started with 24 people on staff in 2018. In 2020, we furloughed half of our staff. And now, we are down to eight employees currently on payroll," said Sirisavath. "It's a very hard time for us, because we are a small family-style restaurant." 

He remembers a time when he would get applicants daily. But in the last three months, he has only received one application. When he set that candidate up for an interview, the person didn't show up.

Sirisavath said the labor shortage is impacting many of his colleagues in the restaurant industry. 

"All of us are in the same boat. Some of my restaurant colleagues or friends say you can use my staff on my days off and vice versa," he said. "We're sharing staff." 

In all this, Sirisavath is staying positive, hoping more people will start to look for employment soon. He wants to continue sharing his Laotian culture with the City of Dallas through his food at Khao Noodle Shop.