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Cinco de Mayo brings big crowds to restaurants with eased restrictions; small businesses still hunt for workers

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 11:34 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana is finally back to business as usual for the first busy holiday for many of our restaurants.

But some places may be facing an uphill battle. As more people get out of the house, workers in the service industry are hard to come by. With busy days like Cinco de Mayo and hardly any more restrictions in place, what restaurants are in need of now is more staff to keep up with demand.

It’s easy to notice the huge difference a year makes for this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations by the block party happening at Mestizo. For the festivities of 2020, folks had to order their food and margaritas to go or sit outside and eat on a patio.

If you go back to 2020′s festivities, folks had to order their food and margaritas to go or sit...
If you go back to 2020′s festivities, folks had to order their food and margaritas to go or sit outside and eat on a patio.(WAFB)

But now, people are excited to get back to the good times.

“Last year at this time, we were sitting around at our houses and all we could do is walk around The Lakes,” said Artie Fillastre, a Baton Rouge resident. “And now, they’re able to get out and socialize with friends again, so this is really nice.”

“It’s exciting man,” said Troy Badon, another Baton Rouge resident.

“Hanging out with friends again and finally feeling like we can do stuff,” said Austin Craig.

“Just normal and everyone’s having fun,” said Brittany Mora. “Everyone’s having such a great time. Cheers! Partying it up.”

RELATED: Restaurant owners nationwide claim they’re having trouble finding workers

Over at Rio Tacos & Tequila, the margaritas were flowing as well.

“We’ve definitely seen a big increase since the restrictions have been lowered,” said Tonnie Pointer, general manager and chef at Rio Tacos & Tequila.

Pointer added the restaurant was slammed all day with customers celebrating Cinco de Mayo. However, there is one issue.

“It’s like business has increased and employment has decreased. So, I just can’t find people to fill the staff, which sucks whenever you’re a new business and you’re really trying to put your best impression forward,” Pointer explained.

The need for employees has been felt by small businesses everywhere for months now. Pointer is hopeful that the restaurant brings in Cinco de Mayo crowds on a regular basis from here on out. But in order to do so, they’ll have to find more people who are looking for a job.

The need for employees has been felt by small businesses everywhere for months now.
The need for employees has been felt by small businesses everywhere for months now.(WAFB)

“Because we love our customers and we want them all to be treated wonderfully when they come through the door. And I just need more staff to be able to do that,” said Pointer.

A lot of people are still collecting bonus unemployment checks worth $300 a week as President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Those payments have been extended until at least September 6.

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