Local Restaurants Struggle To Find Reliable Workers

"Y'all come on in, appreciate it," Barnhills General Manager Wayne Brignac says as he opens the door.

The Barnhills on Highway 90 in Gautier welcomed back customers just days before Katrina's six month mark.

"We had to have a new roof and new equipment inside, new carpet. We had a little water in the back, so it took us awhile to get things back up," Brignac says.

But when things were finally ready, Brignac ran into another snag.

"We ran ads in the paper, had signs out."

But no one applied.

"I'd call people and offer them some money and they'd laugh telling me they want 10, 11, 12 dollars an hour. I can't pay that," Brignac says.

So he's running his buffet without the full staff.

But Barnhills isn't the only business with this problem.

"We've limited our hours, to-go orders and things like that because of no help," Gaynell Martin says.

Martin runs Big R's Restaurant in Moss Point. She says finding employees who'll just show up was difficult in the beginning.

"We'd interview. They'd come one day and not come back, or not come at all. Didn't want to work, I guess. But it's better now," Martin says.

Her eatery is one of only a few open in Moss Point, so it's usually crowded, just like Barnhills in Gautier.

"Well, you learn to just stand in line," customer Janel Krebs laughs.

Line or not, those looking for lunch are excited just to have another option for food.

Brignac says he looks forward to a time when more people are willing to work, so he can open full-time.

"A lot of people are just kind of holding out right now because they've been getting unemployment checks and that's easy money for them. Once that runs out, it won't still be normal, but it'll be better."

Brignac says Barnhills in Gautier will not be serving breakfast on the weekends until they get more help. Although Big R's Restaurant does have a full staff, Manager Gaynell Martin says they'll continue closing early to give her few employees time to relax.