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‘Wasn’t This Always The Answer?’ - Florida Restaurant Chain Says ‘Boosting’ Pay & ‘Offering Better’ Benefits Helped End Its Labor Shortage

Published Friday, November 19, 2021
by Grace Dean/Business Insider
‘Wasn’t This Always The Answer?’ - Florida Restaurant Chain Says ‘Boosting’ Pay & ‘Offering Better’ Benefits Helped End Its Labor Shortage

(THE STATE OF FLORIDA) - Pollo Tropical, a Caribbean-food chain with 169 restaurants in Florida, says it's almost back to normal staffing levels after boosting pay, improving benefits, and giving sign-on bonuses to new Staff.

This is despite the huge labor shortage affecting the industry: Restaurants across the U.S. are struggling to find Staff amid the current shortage as Workers leave the industry - citing low pay, poor benefits, and lack of flexible working hours.

Without giving specifics, Richard Stockinger - CEO at Fiesta Restaurant Group, Pollo Tropical's parent company, says the company had increased wages to "at least market benchmarks.”

Stockinger said Pollo Tropical had also offered hiring incentives and improved its benefits package by adding childcare leave, company-paid educational programs, and more affordable medical plans.

These measures would help its restaurants "remain competitive in these challenging market conditions," he said.

The company had achieved "adequate staffing levels at a total company level" by September, Stockinger said.

Miami Dade is Pollo Tropical's only major market still suffering from low staffing levels, he said.

The company was offering extra perks there, including higher wages, incentives for Staff who work weekends, and bigger sign-on and referral bonuses, he added.

CFO Dirk Montgomery said restaurant wages made up 28% of Pollo Tropical's cost of sales in the third quarter, up from 23.3% during the same quarter last year.

He said the increase was primarily driven by higher wages and overtime pay "due in part to labor shortages."

Restaurants across the U.S. have raised menu prices to offset their growing labor costs.

Pollo Tropical put its prices up by 3.7% in August and Montgomery said it planned on increasing them in December by between 4% and 6%.

Like other restaurant chains, Pollo Tropical reduced operating hours at some of its restaurants during the third quarter due to understaffing.

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