ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local businesses say despite job fairs and posting ‘help wanted’ signs, they’re having trouble finding workers – so are relief checks keeping workers home? Companies like Garcia’s Kitchen say the good news is that business is picking up, but without staff, it’s hard to keep up.

“It’s been a big struggle,” said Dan Garcia, co-owner of Garcia’s Kitchen. “We hire people and they don’t show up to work, or they come into work, they work for a day or two and then they’re gone.”

Other companies in town say the same thing – many wondering if people are content with unemployment and stimulus checks. Garcia’s Kitchen says they’re short almost 40 employees because many that left at the beginning of the pandemic just aren’t coming back. “That’s every position, it’s from cooks to cashiers to bussers to waitresses to dishwashers,” said Garcia. “We barely started serving on plates because we couldn’t get dishwashers.”

It’s so much of a staff shortage, it’s impacting just how much they can stay open. The local chain, which has a number of locations around town, says they have to start closing some days. “Garcia’s has always been open seven days a week,” said Garcia. “We’re going to start closing Mondays and Tuesdays, for now, and we’re going to be open from 8 to 8, Wednesday through Sunday.”

Hotel Parq Central says they’re seeing the same issues with getting employees back. Now, they’re in serious need of front desk workers and housekeeping.”It’s been a struggle to find people wanting to come back to work,” said Yancy Sturgeon, managing director at Hotel Parq Central. “As we get busier, it’s really worrisome about what we’re going to do to cover those spots.”

The hotel says business is picking up, both with guest stays and their Apothecary Lounge. However, they’re worried about having enough workers to keep up with demand. “So we’re getting more people, we just don’t have the people to be able to take care of them,” said Sturgeon. “We’re looking at doing a job fair. I think everyone’s trying to do the same thing right now.”

The problem extends beyond New Mexico. One Albuquerque family recently had their weekend trip to the Grand Canyon canceled. The hotel explained that “staffing shortages” are keeping them from operating at full capacity. Back at Garcia’s, while things stay busy, they’re going to take every chance they can to bring workers in. “I even tell customers, if you know anybody in your family that needs a job, have them come on in,” said Garcia. “Maybe we can hire them.”

Both companies we spoke with say they’ve even tried boosting entry pay to appeal to those looking for work. They’re actively hiring so those who are interested can apply online through Garcia’s Kitchen or call Hotel Parq Central at 505-242-0040. A number of other businesses are also planning job fairs or mass hiring in the next week or so to bring in staff, including: