Staff shortages may force new bistro to close after nine weeks
A NEWLY opened restaurant could be forced to close due to staff shortages within the hospitality sector.
Justin Saunders, head chef at Ruby’s Lounge and Bistro, said that it had been a struggle to hire staff – especially qualified chefs – since the restaurant opened almost nine weeks ago in what was formerly the Town House pub in New Street.
Mr Saunders and Tonicha Lawrence, the restaurant owner, have made an appeal to the Housing and Work Advisory Group (HAWAG) urging the States to allocate licenses on a case-by-case basis and have asked for a more flexible approach to means-testing.
Mr Saunders went on to say that the pool of qualified chefs and hospitality staff is too small for the States to impose the five-year residency rule in all cases.
Both Mr Saunders and Mrs Lawrence, who are originally from Jersey, have said that they feel the local hospitality sector needs to be more varied.
Before moving back home, Mr Saunders worked as a chef in the UK and Ireland for more than 18 years and has developed menus for Michelin-star restaurants. Mrs Lawrence left Jersey in the Nineties when she landed a role in the TV soap Emmerdale and following that spent some time working in the Yorkshire police force before moving back to the Island with her family.
‘What we would like the States to understand is that it is doubly hard for a fledgling hospitality business to recruit in Jersey because locals either aren’t interested or qualified to work in the hospitality sector and the pool of candidates from outside the Island who have been here for five years is really small,’ said Mr Saunders.
Mr Saunders also said that the lack of people enrolling in the hospitality and tourism course in Highlands College was concerning as it was a sign that the industry would continue to struggle to hire locally.
‘It is incredibly frustrating to see all of the licenses being given to the finance industry. The reason we haven’t been given as many licenses as we need by the States is that Jersey is saturated with restaurants. I think more variety is needed.
‘It is very short-sighted to prevent the hospitality industry from developing to its full potential. People who move to the Island and work in finance need places to go out and have fun and by preventing the sector from growing, the very people you want to stay here will end up leaving.’