SC restaurant owner can’t find help, blames poor work ethic

Farm to table cooking vegetable chop chef cut salad

Okatie, SC (WSAV) – An Okatie restaurant owner is the latest in the hospitality industry to change his hours due to a shortage of employees.

Tony Herndon, owner of Joe Loves Lobster, said the struggle to find good help isn’t due to a lack of affordable housing or transportation as others have suggested, but the change in work ethic among the people who apply.

“It’s their ability to perform, their ability come in on time or at all- just their entire work ethic is not there,” Herndon said.

Herndon has managed his restaurant for five years and said the change in workforce was noticeable about a year ago.

He pays his employees $8 an hour. Add in tips and he said they average between $15 to $20 an hour.

However, he said his cameras have proved that’s not good enough.

“I’ve caught people stealing. I’ve caught them adding tips that people weren’t putting in,” he said.

Herndon is now operating the place solely with his daughter.  He’s cutting back his hours considerably and focusing more on catering and festivals.

He added that his customers come from all over the nation and world and they tell the same stories of worker shortage from places they represent.

“I don’t blame it on Bluffton, HIlton Head, or Beaufort. It’s nothing against this area. But it’s my situation and it’s really tough here to get good help. I can’t believe anyone would open a business here based on getting good help. It doesn’t make sense to me at all,” he added.