By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As Bay Area restaurants look to reopening and seeing more customers, many are also scrambling to find workers to service them.

The labor pool has gotten even tighter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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After being closed for more than a year, The Ramp in Mission Bay is ready for its long-awaited grand opening next Tuesday. They have since doubled their capacity by turning parking spaces into seating. But they’re coming up short on workers.

“It’s been difficult, I think for a number of reasons,” said General Manager Ben Giler. “I think certainly I think our own scale, we’re going to be massive. We have nothing but socially distant outdoor dining space.”

Giler is currently looking for dozens of workers from frontline to back of the house. He said at one point when the restaurant considered re-opening at the beginning of the pandemic, he received hundreds of resumes. This time around, he’s not getting that kind of interest.

“It’s hard to lure candidates out of their homes, if they’re still feeling a little big unsafe with the conditions,” said Giler. “I have full-time availability for folks too, like I said there are a lot of shifts, and so I’m trying to say that to compete with – people are making a lot of money on unemployment still.”

Waterbar and its sister restaurant EPIC Steak on the Embarcadero are now offering to pay kitchen staffers, like cooks and chefs, more than they were pre-pandemic to attract candidates.

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“The supply and demand is really out of whack, so we’re interviewing constantly and typically what we find is that we’ll find someone, we’ll say ‘hey we’d like to hire you,’ and they’ll say ‘I’m interviewing at three more restaurants after this,'” said Manager Partner Pete Sittnick.

Sittnick says right now, he’s operating with 90 fewer staffers than he did before the first shutdown.

He said reasons for the shortage are complex.

“There’s others that have maybe even gotten out of the city, or maybe even gotten out of the restaurant business,” said Sittnick. “And then there’s just all the uncertainty like ‘what’s going to happen, is there going to be another shutdown?'”

Waterbar and EPIC Steak have openings for all kinds of open positions, including bartenders, hosts, waiters, and oyster shuckers.

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Sittnick said to cope with the shortage, he’s relying on staff who are willing to pick up extra shifts.