SAN DIEGO – Staffing shortages are creating major waves for businesses across the country, especially restaurants. 

With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, things went from bad to worse. 

For owners Rob Zakir and Rays Hosseini-Zakir, Mom’s Pizza & Pasta isn’t just a business, it’s family. That’s why having reliable, friendly employees is a top priority. 

“We’ve finally, I feel like in the back of the house, the front of the house, we have a really good staff that cares about this place,” Hosseini-Zakir said. 

But those solid employees took months to find and they’re still understaffed by about 40%. 

“I ran three ads about a month ago, out of the entire three ads, I got two responses,” Zakir said. “We’re losing about 25 to 30 percent business because we don’t have enough staff.”

Like many other business, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases made the staffing shortage worse. 

“At one point, we had like a bunch of people out because one person had a headache, one person had a runny nose, one person was exposed because their son had a headache, you know, if the tiniest symptom, you can’t come in,” Hosseini-Zakir said. 

To make ends meet, the married couple works six days a week, closes on Sundays for a break and even had to run the shop solo when necessary. 

“I man the phone; I’ll serve; I’ll bus; I’ll do whatever I have to do,” Hosseini-Zakir said. 

According to University of San Diego economics professor Alan Gin, the restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit with the staffing shortage, but it’s an issue many industries will have to grapple with for a while. 

“I think it’s going to take at least a couple years for the labor market to get back to normal, by my estimate nationwide probably over four million people are out of the workforce,” Gin said.

He said one consequence will be pressure to increase wages.

“All of our staff are making the same salary as an accountant right now or as any other professional jobs out there,” Zakir said.