OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Ahead of what is expected to be a big Mother’s Day weekend for restaurants in the Bay Area, likely the biggest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many establishments are struggling to find workers.

Many are deciding to celebrate by eating out, but there’s a problem. Restaurants can’t find workers to fully staff the big day or any other day.

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The pandemic took a toll on hospitality workers and restaurant owners say many have left the industry for other jobs, making it hard for establishments to meet the increased demand.

Amy Murray, the chef and owner of Revival Bar & Kitchen in Berkeley told KPIX 5, “We can’t open five days yet.”

Revival sits empty on Wednesday nights because Murray just doesn’t have the staff to open up her restaurant.

“The thing about the restaurant industry is you give up a lot. You work weekends, you work late nights, you don’t often have benefits in this industry so it sort of exposed our industry as a flawed industry,” she said.

Mago Restaurant in Oakland, which reopened for indoor dining. (CBS)

Mago Restaurant in Oakland, which reopened for indoor dining. (CBS)

It’s the same scenario at Mago Restaurant in Oakland. Wednesday was the first day of indoor dining here and workers will be busy in the days ahead.

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“Everyone I hire I tell them they have to wear a lot of hats now. The support team we used to have prior to the pandemic isn’t quite there,” said Mark Liberman, the chef and owner at Mago Restaurant,

As restaurants deal with staffing shortages, they are bracing themselves for the busiest day in more than a year.

“It’s unbelievable how many people are coming out for Mother’s Day. It’s almost like the debutant ball of the season,” said Murray.

Revival has more than 200 reservations and Murray is appealing to those close to her for help. “I’m calling in all my favors, all my friends, relatives, former employees. Anybody who’s willing to work,” she said.

While many of the 6 million restaurant jobs that were lost in the first six weeks of the pandemic nationwide are coming back, local restaurants say they just need qualified candidates to apply.

Murray says, “It’s like Christmas you know, it’s like yay, we’re here, we’re happy, here’s the presents, let’s have a good time. But we need to have more people show up for the interviews and get more people hired.”

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Some in the restaurant industry are even offering signing bonuses to those who stay in their jobs for at least three months.