Wahaca 'having to turn down bookings' due to lack of staff

11 November 2022 by
Wahaca 'having to turn down bookings' due to lack of staff

The co-founder of Wahaca has said the Mexican restaurant group is having to turn down customer bookings due to a shortage of staff.

Thomasina Miers told the Hospitality Rising podcast that the business could open extra sites and create jobs if it was able to recruit more people.

She said: "Quite simply, we can't take as many bookings. We have people wanting to have bookings at our tables, and we don't have enough staff. However, we could feed more people, open more restaurants, and create more jobs if we had the staff to do it."

Miers co-founded the business with Mark Selby in 2007 and it now runs 13 restaurants under its core Wahaca brand.

She added that Wahaca's ethos and focus on looking after staff had carried it "a long way" but that there was a "massive shortage" of people in hospitality.

"I think the future of restaurants is in a crisis right now," Miers said. "Unless culturally something shifts in this country, we won't be able to go out to dinner. We won't be able to get to that amazing service. Monday nights, Sunday nights, Tuesday nights, forget it - restaurants will be shut because there just aren't enough people to support the industry."

Miers is backing the Hospitality Rising recruitment campaign, which aims to attract more young people into the industry. She said hospitality had given her a career path despite leaving school not knowing what she wanted to do.

She added: "I am 100 per cent behind what Hospitality Rising is doing. Until we tell people, and people really understand, that working in hospitality is infectiously creative, engaging and feels amazing, things aren't going to change.

"You're making money, and creating business, wealth and jobs – there is something very incredible and emotive and wonderful about hospitality, and until we start realising that, and putting more people into it, it will start shrinking and that will be a great shame.

"Young people should work in hospitality because it's the fastest way for people to skill themselves up with people skills, managing skills, accounting skills, finance skills and it's the fastest way to run your own business."

The Hospitality Rising campaign has already achieved backing from companies including Whitbread, Pret A Manger, Welcome Break, Hilton, Soho House, Prezzo, Revolution Bars, Parkdean Resorts, and Claridges.

It received over 7,000 applications within two days of launching its jobs board last month.

Hospitality Rising has so far raised £850,000 of a £5m target it plans to use to launch a ‘government-sized' recruitment campaign to change the perception of the industry and bolster its workforce.

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