BEREA, Ohio — As unemployment issues continue to plague Northeast Ohio, one business should be booming this Latino Restaurant Week, but it's struggling with a staff shortage.
At the Campus Grille, the phones are ringing off the hook while the customers are rolling in to have an authentic meal.
Luis Roman has been Campus Grille's owner and chef for nearly eight years, cooking up what he calls, “a taste of home.” But that dream was disrupted by the pandemic, which left so many just like Roman reevaluating.
“The pandemic was harsh and the pandemic turned the whole industry on its head. Meaning lack of labor, lack of supplies,” Roman said.
While 70% of business is back, he’s still running his shop with half of his normal staff.
“It's been a challenge. If you could take a look around of my storefronts I have now hiring applications on like...every window pane,” said Roman.
To the point that he adjusted his hours. He went from operating five days a week to four.
“You break even with those weekends, you pay your bills with the weekends. It's the Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursday so it definitely pains me to close that Tuesday,” said Roman.
It pains him even more, he said, heading into Latino restaurant week.
"Latino restaurant week is a week-long celebration in the middle of Hispanic heritage month to highlight and feature Hispanic chefs, Hispanic cuisine and really invite Northeast Ohio to try the diversity of what Latino restaurants are," said Jenice Contreras with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
It's a time that Roman loves every year that brings in lots of business. A busy week that he will have a short-handed staff for.
“It's kind of a Debbie Downer. But the local support has been amazing. The city of Berea has been amazing," Roman said.
With the community keeping him going. Roman is holding strong, knowing his business will be fully staffed soon.
“I think we might be able to turn the corner. I don't think this year, I think it's going into next year, maybe starting in the springtime," Roman said.
Until then, he'll keep doing what he knows best—with a little Latino flair.
To his customers, he said the way you can help is by spreading the word and coming in on weekdays and weekends. Also, remember to be kind.
Campus Grille is located at 10 Seminary Street, Berea, 44017.