Businesses in New Bern feel the effects of worker shortage


NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Restaurants and businesses across Eastern North Carolina are feeling the effects of a nationwide worker shortage.

Between the good food and good times at MJ’s Raw Bar and Grille, restaurant workers are exhausted.

“We’re just tiring ourselves out because the people that are working are working doubles almost everyday,” said Ben Lentz, manager at MJ’s.

For the past 16 years, the restaurant was open seven days a week. Now, they’re closed on Mondays because of the shortage. Despite this, the restaurant is on track to do its best year ever in terms of revenue.

“Saturday was our best day ever in our 16 years,” said Lentz.

Bed and breakfasts are feeling the pressure, too.

“Ideally, it would be three additional people, right now we only have one,” said Gretchen Du Peza, who owns and runs Benjamin Ellis House Bed & Breakfast with her husband.

They’ve been looking for extra hands to help them out. People visiting the area say things seem pretty normal.

“The nights that we did eat out, it didn’t seem like there was any problem with the wait staff at the restaurants,” said Tom Redding, a New Bern visitor.

Redding said he has seen some effects of the labor shortage in other parts of North Carolina. The long-term effects are what Du Peza is afraid of.

“If we’re bringing in large groups, or the caterers can’t handle the requests and the convention center isn’t able to staff, that’s a concern for me,” said Du Peza. “That will impact the recovery New Bern is finally seeing.”

Melissa Riggle is the executive director of the Craven County Tourism Development Authority. She said she understands those fears and is trying to help their community partners get in front of them.

“What we’re doing is having conversations with stakeholders in town and hospitality partners, doing what we can,” said Riggle. “Knowing when we’re going to see heavier tourist traffic and groups and seeing how we can lessen the effect of staffing changes.”

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