‘Be kind’, hospitality sector urges public

A ST Helier restaurant has urged Islanders to ‘be kind’ to hospitality staff as the industry grapples with its ‘worst ever’ employment crisis.

Chula Whelan, chief executive of Samphire restaurant in Don Street, said they were getting ‘absolute abuse’ from some customers Picture: ROB CURRIE
Chula Whelan, chief executive of Samphire restaurant in Don Street, said they were getting ‘absolute abuse’ from some customers Picture: ROB CURRIE

Chula Whelan, chief executive of Samphire, made the appeal after saying her staff and those at other establishments had been treated badly recently by some customers who had failed to recognise the significant pressures those working in the industry were currently facing.

And Simon Soar, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, has asked Islanders to be more patient when out, as smaller groups of staff acclimatise to suddenly serving a much larger number of customers in an almost ‘restriction-free’ environment.

The calls follow the first weekend since March 2020 where stand-up drinking has been allowed and nightclubs have been able to open.

Ms Whelan said: ‘There are things like people telling us to hurry up and snapping their fingers at us.

‘It is not just our restaurant but other restaurants too. We are just getting absolute abuse from some customers and the few staff that have not left the Island or the industry, some of them have been spoken to so horribly that they are now thinking what is the point in staying here.

‘I think people who are not in the industry or those who do not read the news do not realise how bad the industry has been affected. It is Covid, Brexit and the increase in cost of supplies – it has been a perfect storm.’

Mr Soar warned in May that a wage war was beginning in the sector as businesses struggled for staff as a result of Covid and Brexit.

He yesterday added that he thought the staffing crisis had been exacerbated by the sudden surge in demand from customers at the weekend as Covid restrictions fell away.

He said: ‘From our side, we would just ask that people give a bit of consideration to what is going on and how staff everywhere are working absolutely flat out.

‘These businesses are trying to get staff and reopen. Town was absolutely packed at the weekend – things went from zero to 100 – and staff, after having limited capacity for so long, were trying to deal with that influx. I think a bit of sympathy is needed just while they are getting back to normal.’

Mr Soar added that it was an opportune time for Islanders wanting to earn some extra cash with hospitality wages now at a record high.

He said: ‘With everything going on at the moment it would be great if Islanders could embrace the idea of doing some extra shifts and supporting the industry.’

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