Restaurants prepare for busy Cinco de Mayor despite staffing shortages, capacity restrictions

Mexican restaurants around New Jersey geared up for a busy dinner rush celebrating Cinco de Mayo. But some say that last May 5 was a learning experience during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News 12 Staff

May 5, 2021, 9:45 PM

Updated 1,110 days ago

Share:

Mexican restaurants around New Jersey geared up for a busy dinner rush celebrating Cinco de Mayo. But some say that last May 5 was a learning experience during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was strictly takeout and it was very chaotic,” says Tortilla Press general manager Joe Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald says that last year’s holiday had the phones ringing off the hook for takeout, with orders for delivery nonstop.
“It got extremely overwhelming and it was more than we could handle, especially with the fact that we didn’t have staff because of the pandemic,” he says.
Oasis Mexican Grill manager Alberto Garcia says that he experienced a similar situation last year.
“It was hectic. We weren’t really prepared for it so we kind of took a lot for orders to come out,” he says.
Both restaurants are located in Collingswood. This year indoor capacity limits are at 50% and the staff are putting safeguards in place.
“As the day progresses we may disable delivery and also pick-up. But we do already have in place where we have an announcement where everything will pause,” Garcia says.
Even if restaurants in New Jersey were able to operate at 100% capacity currently, many restaurant owners say that they may not be able to do so successfully. They say that staffing shortages are one of the biggest problems they are facing right now.
“We need everything. We need cooks, we need servers, hosts. If you name it, we need it,” Fitzgerald says.
Fitzgerald says that he has heard similar complaints from other restaurants.
“You just can’t even get the people in the door to interview them, let alone hire them,” he says.
But as more people begin to dine out, the restaurants are hoping that patrons will be patient.
“We’re doing the best we can and we’d love to get you sat and get you fed and we want you to have a good time as much as we want the other table that’s sitting there to have a good time,” Fitzgerald says.
The managers say that even with capacity limits going away on May 19, they will still stay where they are now because of the 6-foot table spacing requirement.


More from News 12