NewsPolk County


Restaurants still dealing with worker shortage amid busy holiday season

Posted at 6:43 PM, Dec 23, 2021

AUBURNDALE, Fla. — The busy holiday season is highlighting the continued need for hospitality workers.

Despite many restaurants rebounding from the pandemic, some are still having to make adjustments because of the worker shortage.

Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro has been a staple in downtown Auburndale for 16 years, best known for its scones.

“We bake thousands of scones every year and different flavors and different shapes,” said Tabitha Hill, owner of Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro.


This time of year, the restaurant is popular for holiday parties. Longtime customer Kim Hancock said coming to the restaurant puts her in the Christmas spirit.

“We’re actually getting ready for Christmas, so Tabitha always makes the best teas, so we get those for our family gatherings,” said Hancock.

While this is the restaurant’s busiest season, Hills says they could really use more help. The restaurant is short on kitchen staff, a dishwasher and a server.

“Some days I'm the hostess and the dishwasher. The next day I might be running the kitchen or serving. I kind of do a little bit of everything. Whatever hole that needs to be filled I just jump in,” said Hill.

Due to the worker shortage, they have switched to reservation only and for the first time, they’ll be closed on Christmas Eve.

“We are cutting back our hours a little bit just to make sure my staff is able to spend some much-needed time with their family. So, we’re just kind of adjusting like the rest of the world we’re just trying to make it work,” Hill said.

Hill said she’s also feeling the effects of the global shipping crisis. Products she’s ordered months ago, including to-go boxes will not arrive until January.