The Times podcast: Desperately seeking restaurant workers

A server in a retro uniform carries plates of food
A server in a retro uniform carries plates of food at Du-par’s Restaurant at the Original Farmers Market.
(Damon Winter / Los Angeles Times)

The pandemic has made a lot of us rethink a lot of things. On the forefront of that existential rethink: restaurant workers.


This realignment of priorities and personal interests drove lots of restaurant workers to quit. Now, two years after COVID-19 upended the restaurant industry, so many food spots are still short-staffed and help-wanted signs are seemingly everywhere. That’s motivating employers to offer better pay, conditions and perks.

Today, L.A. Times business reporter Samantha Masunaga discusses why the labor shortage is still a big problem for restaurant owners across the country and how they can persuade workers to come back. Read the full transcript here.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guest: L.A. Times business reporter Samantha Masunaga

More reading:

These workers left their restaurant jobs in the Great Resignation. Where are they now?

The summer when restaurant workers rose up

‘Are you breathing? Hired.’ Why SoCal restaurants are still deeply short-staffed

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra, Shannon Lin and Kasia Broussalian and producers David Toledo, Ashlea Brown and Angel Carreras. Our engineers are Mario Diaz and Mark Nieto. Our editor is Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmín Aguilera and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.