EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) ─ On any given Tuesday, the Siena Restaurants in both East Greenwich and Smithfield would be open.
But until they can hire an adequate amount of employees, both locations will remain closed for an additional day each week.
“We don’t have enough cooks and culinary staff to man the kitchen,” co-owner Anthony Tarro said, adding that they’ve already opted to keep the restaurants closed on Mondays.
Tarro said in order for both restaurants to return to full staff, they would need to hire at least 10 employees.
“It’s a challenge, it really is for everybody,” he said.
Tarro previously told 12 News Siena is offering cash bonuses to those who apply and get the job. But those incentives don’t seem to be working.
“If you get a person that’s saying ‘Well I can make this by staying home,’ or ‘I can make this by coming into work,’ it’s becoming a pretty clear choice that they don’t have to work and they can stay home,” Tarro said.
It’s an issue the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) is well aware of.
That’s why RIHA’s Sarah Bratko testified before the state’s House Finance Committee Tuesday, urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow employees to return to work and earn up to 150% of their weekly unemployment, on top of what’s offered at the federal unemployment level.
“This gives people a little bit of extra help as they navigate those challenges, while also encouraging people to get back to work,” Bratko said.
She’s hopeful that the legislation will pass in the General Assembly by mid-May, just in time for the busy summer season.
Tarro said Siena previously had a location in Providence as well, but it was forced to close last March because of the pandemic. He said if their overall staffing levels improve, he will consider reopening that location.