Oklahoma’s economy roaring back as hospitality industry faces critical worker shortage


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahoma’s economy roars back to life, the hospitality industry is facing a new challenge.  

Restaurants and hotels are struggling to find workers willing to work at their businesses.

They say the critical shortage is causing many to not operate at full capacity.  

“I cannot open to full capacity and take care of business as we normally do,” said Jeff Countryman, the Executive General Manager at Charleston’s Restaurant in Bricktown.

Countryman has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years.

He’s been with Charleston’s for eight years and says this shortage is nothing like he’s ever seen.  

“My worst fear of going through COVID and opening back up was not having enough staff to handle the influx of traffic and that’s what we’re kind of going through right now,” he said.  

He says the shortage is so severe that Charleston’s is still unable to serve guests at the same rate as they were before the pandemic, but the problem isn’t a lack of customers.  

“Our business is exceeding 2019 sales by about 20-30% right now. The guests coming out are coming in full force. The managers are working harder, they’re busing tables, running food, taking orders,” said Countryman.

Countryman says Charleston’s is also offering signing bonuses for anyone willing to work.  

“If you work at least five shifts a week and you last 30 days, we give you a $200 bounty and if you last for another 30 days then you get another $200, so that’s $400,” he said.  

If you’re interested in applying at Charleston’s, you can do so here.

There will also be a free job fair on Friday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for anyone looking for a job in the hospitality industry.

It will be held at the Moore Norman Technology Center at S. Pennsylvania Ave. and 134th St.  
No registration is required.  

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