Bay Area restaurants losing workers to high cost of living

The Bay Area is having a bit of restaurant worker shortage problem.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association in it's "state of the industry" report said that "there's an overall shortage of actual people to employ." The reason? Crazy high cost of living.

Even at it's best, the restaurant business is notoriously a high turnover industry. The National Restaurant Association puts the average turnover for regular line employees at 110%, costing many restaurants more than $146,000 annually.

So the high cost of living is a huge problem for both the employees and the operators. It's making living in the area impossible for workers and making it difficult for restaurants to fully staff their establishments.

California is moving toward a $15/hr minimum wage, which sounds like it'd be a big help, right? But the math is pretty stark.

Working at $15/hr for 40 hours per week comes out to $2,400 a month (before taxes and pre-tax benefit deductions). The average price of a studio apartment in the Bay Area goes for $2,120 per month, according to RealFacts. So even $15/hr isn't coming close to a livable wage in the Bay Area.

Tipping will help servers but the back of house staff is stuck with just the hourly wage, unless the restaurant implements some sort of service charge to help boost their pay.

So while some cooks are leaving the kitchen for the better earning server jobs, a lot of Bay Area servers are leaving the region altogether or jumping into higher paying industries. And that's not going to change until restaurants can afford higher wages and the region's cost of living drops to something a bit more realistic for the average worker.

Restauranteur David Chang says that, sooner or later, restaurants are going to need to give their menu prices a boost, but even higher menu prices isn't an overnight solution, according to some operators.

"Raising prices doesn't mean that sales and profits go up," said Andrew Hoffman, operating partner at Comal and The Advocate. "It's wrong, but anybody who tries to change it overnight will go out of business. If we could pay line cooks $30 an hour, we would."

Bay Area restaurants, how are you dealing with staff leaving? Let us know in the comment section below or email us!