Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 04-01-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 NORTH COUNTY APRIL 1-7, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER EDITION part-time dishwashers, he said. "It's always worked for me for the six years that I've been here. And now, I'm even paying for Indeed and I'm not even getting people that I wouldn't hire." In Woonsocket, Fazzini's and Champs Diner owner Bethany Marsland said the restaurants are facing the double challenges of an employee shortage and continued restrictions on dining. While the state recently expanded indoor din- ing capacity to 66 percent, Marsland said the six-foot requirement between tables means she's unable to reach that capacity at Fazzini's. "Nobody's applying. They're all col- lecting unemployment, there's no way to fight that. There's nothing anybody can do," she said. "I spend $100 a week on Indeed, and nobody applies or if they do apply, they don't show up for the interview." Marsland said she's currently sched- uling reservations based on how much staff she has on any given day. Sarah Bratko, senior vice president of advocacy and general counsel for the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, said they've been hearing for several months of employee shortages at res- taurants and hotels. She said there are several reasons behind the problem, including unemployment benefits and restrictions on public transportation and child care as a result of COVID- 19. "It's becoming more apparent because restaurants are starting to build up capacity again," she said. "Back in January, when we were still operating under the pause rule, there wasn't as much need for staff." During the pandemic, she said, the Department of Labor and Training loosened a requirement that people look for work in order to collect employment. The department, she said, is currently looking into when to reinstate those requirements, which should help the issue. "I think as we open up more and the vaccine becomes more prevalent and things normalize a little bit, we expect it to improve," she said. At the same time, she said, many restaurants are still closed or not yet operating at full capacity. Not every restaurant has faced the same challenges. Thierry Delos, co-owner of Kountry Kitchen in Smithfield, said the business has been lucky to retain most of its employees, even as he hears of shortages from friends in the industry. "I talk to a lot of restaurants in Providence, and they can't find people. Especially in their kitchens, they have a lot of problems in their kitchens," he said. Delos described Kountry Kitchen's atmosphere as a "family" and said he thinks it's helped them keep employ- ees in place. Many of their younger employees, he said, are the children of friends, and the restaurant contin- ued to pay staff even when it couldn't afford to during the pandemic. "We really take care of our employ- ees, so they tend to stay with us and not leave," he said. For other restaurants, however, the future remains unknown. Marsland said she doesn't know if Fazzini's will be able to open its outdoor patio this year or what the summer will bring. It all depends, she said, on state restric- tions and how many candidates apply for jobs. "It's frustrating. This is a little over a year now. I'm lucky, but a lot of busi- nesses have had to close," she said. The Valley Breeze is committed to keeping quality news stories like this one free to our readers. You can be a huge part of this local journalism success story by making a one- time or monthly contribution to what we do every week at Thank you as always for reading. RESTAURANTS From Page 3 APRIL 4 Happy Birthday, Lauren Clem! From all your friends at The Valley Breeze! Also, Happy Birthday, Frank (FP47) The Weirdo! From wife, Jr., Super Mario and Luigi BIRTHDAY CLUB Make your own play dough Saturday SMITHFIELD – Greenville Public Library, 573 Putnam Pike, will offer Sensory Play Take It Make It Kits, available on Saturday, April 3. The kit contains the ingredients and directions to make your own play dough. You will just need to add cooking oil and water. Kits are available in the children's room and in the teen room on a first- come, first-served basis, while sup- plies last. Call the library at 401-949-3630 for more information. Landscape construction ~ Commercial • Residential Backhoe Work & Excavation Services Paver Patio Work • Septic Installs & Repairs 767 Hartford Pike, Scituate, RI 401-934-0581 Farm & Greenhouses Owned & Operated by the Polseno Family Please like us on Facebook • Scituate Nursery Beginning Wednesday, March 31st Open with a beautiful selection of EastEr Plants Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Shop Competitive Shop Local • Shop Smart Congratulations to all rhode island all state & Mass. distriCt students! 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At Hear For You Hearing and Balance Center we strive for excellence in customer care. Our services include: • Diagnostic Hearing tests ages 6 months & up • Hearing Aid Evaluations • Hearing Aid Sales & Repairs

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