This is a very concrete consequence of the difficulty in finding labor in the catering sector. After reducing the number of covers, the two-star chef from Carcassonne had to resolve not to open his brasserie “A 4 temps” seven days a week in June. Objective: not to exhaust its teams… and find around fifteen additional seasonal workers by July.
They have been warning for months: restaurateurs are struggling to find staff. This very significant lack of manpower is not a distant threat, and is already reflected in very concrete repercussions on professionals in the sector. In Carcassonne, it is one of the most illustrious representatives of the culinary arts who is bearing the brunt of the consequences of the difficulty in recruiting: Franck Putelat.
The two-starred chef has thus made it known, on Facebook in particular, that he is giving up opening seven days a week, for a month, his brasserie “A 4 Temps”. From this Monday, May 30 and until Tuesday, June 28, the establishment on boulevard Barbès thus closes its doors on Mondays and Tuesdays. The message posted in no way eludes the cause of this decision: “lack of staff”. “I reached the end, I could no longer provide fourteen services per week”explains the restaurateur, whose establishment currently has 27 employees instead of the 43 normally required. “At the start of the year, things were still going well. We managed to replace people. Afterwards, finding people became much more complicated”. The need then arose to “preserve” the (reduced) team in place: “I don’t want to flush out the most promising ‘elders’ and youngsters before the summer period!”
Today, I receive ten to fifteen CVs… per year
Already with reduced staff during the month of May, Franck Putelat had resolved to limit services to “130 covers”when the brewery was already set up “up to 200”. “I’m not saying that closing two days a week is the right solution, we could have further limited the number of covers, but how to explain to regulars who arrive without booking that we cannot serve them when tables are available? ?” This is the paradox of the current situation, all the more bewildering when you know how urgently the sector needs to work: “We have the working tools, we have the clientele, but we lack human beings internally”. Cooks, waiters, bartenders, cleaning ladies… No tradesman escapes the shortage of arms.
“Before, with the two stars and the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France, I received ten to fifteen CVs a month.says Franck Putelat. Today, I receive ten to fifteen… a year. It’s not the same thing at all!” According to him, the Covid period has “accelerated” a fundamental phenomenon that has already been latent for several years: the desire of an entire generation to enjoy life more. “During the closures linked to the confinements, we spent months being paid 100% then 70% of our salary. This inevitably causes a drop in motivation. Even me, who has been doing this job since the age of 14, I I felt! When you stay at home for weeks with your family, when until then you did not know that such a rhythm could exist, you ask yourself the question. Why not continue?
Have a good summer to pass the winter properly
At present, Franck Putelat is unable to confirm that his Carcassonne brewery will reopen seven days a week from July. “All trades combined, a good fifteen additional people are needed. My directors try to recruit wherever they can; we have also gone through ”headhunting” agencies specializing in catering, but neither do these structures. can’t find a candidate. This problem is global: a restaurant friend in the United States is in the same situation as us!”
These numbers at half mast not only have an impact on the pace and organization of work: by closing his establishment two days a week, Franck Putelat foresees a loss of 100,000 euros in turnover in June. “Of course, fewer employees also means fewer expenses, but the limitation of the number of covers has already had an effect on turnover… but we are not looking to make turnover for the sake of turnover. The objective, c is to have a good month of July, August and September so that we can properly get through the winter, which is a more delicate period.” There are thus four weeks left for Franck Putelat (like all the restaurateurs in the area) to swell his teams and achieve a full summer. In the meantime, since 1er May, “A 4 Temps” only offers a single menu for lunch and another for dinner, instead of two different menus for lunch and dinner as was traditionally the case. The culinary talents of Carcassonne forced to curb their potential: an aberration that we hope will be temporary.
Free up more time for employees
How to make catering jobs attractive again? Franck Putelat concedes: “People who work must earn more money. The State must value the value of work”. And to remember that “Restaurants have made this effort, increasing wages by 6% on 1er last april” ; to also point out that “someone who has worked for me for five or six years makes a good living, because he is progressing”. However, the leader believes that the massive defections that the sector is experiencing today “are not due to a question of salary, but of quality of life”.
To improve the latter in jobs with staggered hours, also requiring work when others are resting or partying, Franck Putelat offers an alternative. “Setting up two teams: one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. This would give employees more time for their family life. load reductions. We’ve been saying it for a long time!” Will the urgency of the situation help to move the lines?