MOBILE COUNTY, Ala (WALA) -- As COVID restrictions continue to be loosened, there is a major problem affecting many restaurants in the area.

It is a staffing problem.

“It seems like nobody wants to work these days,” said Maurice White, Owner of Big White Wings in Prichard.

White hired one person recently, but is still searching for six more.

“Very frustrating when you know the bills are coming and you’re not making the money to accommodate the bills coming cause the bills are not stopping,” he said.

While the signature Stupid Fries and wings continue to draw crowds, White says the staffing struggles comes down to people not wanting to work.

“They got all these stimulus checks and everything, that’s no problem with me worried about people getting their money, but it makes it hard on small businesses on people want to come and work,” he said.

Restaurants in Downtown Mobile are also on a hiring spree.

Squid Ink owner Pete Blohme owns four restaurants in the area, all in need of workers.

“We’re probably 20% down across the board,” he said. “Typically, during prime season our company will employ 150 to 160 people and we’re way below that now.”

It is not just a problem in the Port City, Blohme says it is a national issue.

“I just came from California doing some work out there and I was probably with a dozen other restaurateurs and chefs and it’s a terrible problem nationwide staying staffed,” he said.

Back at Big White Wings, they are still serving food six days a week as White works to hire and train.

“We’ll be back open tomorrow, but we don’t know when we’ll stay back open to 7 again,” he said.

The National Restaurant Association says employment has risen the last three months but is still well below what it was before the pandemic.

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