Johnny Rockets, Fatburger owner says labor shortages facing restaurants a ‘total nightmare’

FAT Brands CEO says worker shortage is ‘100% related’ to unemployment benefits extension

The worker shortage in the restaurant industry is a "total nightmare," according to FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn.

"It's very difficult," he said on FOX Business’ "Mornings with Maria." "The real problem isn't so much the existing restaurant operators that have the restaurants open. It's the new restaurants that we're building." 

LABOR SHORTAGE MAY GET WORSE BEFORE IMPROVING, NABE SURVEY

The shortage, which has been plaguing businesses across the U.S., could get worse before it begins improving, according to a new survey from the National Association for Business Economics. The survey shows that a majority of the group's members expect the labor shortage to last until at least next year. 

Wiederhorn, whose company’s portfolio includes brands like Johnny Rockets, Ponderosa Steakhouse and Fatburger, believes the lack of workers is "100% related" to the extension of unemployment benefits.

"You certainly have high… enough unemployment numbers out there that shows there is workforce availability," he said. "It's just hard to find because people are sitting at home."

FAT BRANDS PURCHASE OF JOHNNY ROCKETS WAS IN WORKS FOR 'SEVERAL YEARS,' CEO SAYS

However, he went on to say that the problem will likely dissipate this summer. 

"We have another month or six weeks of it, and I think that we'll start to see a bounce back," Wiederhorn told host Cheryl Casone

The Chamber of Commerce has warned the worker shortage poses the biggest threat to the economy's still-nascent recovery from the coronavirus pandemic after the government reported that the U.S. had a little more than 9.2 million vacant job openings in May, a record-shattering number despite the 9.3 million unemployed Americans.

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Ticker Security Last Change Change %
FAT FAT BRANDS INC. 10.19 -0.11 -1.07%

One result of the worker shortage is prices going up for consumers, Wiederhorn added.

"[Prices are] probably up 10% on average, some as much as 20%," he said. "Definitely the result of higher labor costs and higher food prices that the restaurant operators are having to pay to bring that product in the back door."

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FOX Business’ Megan Henney and Angelica Stabile contributed to this article.