CLEVELAND — John Lane, owner of the Winking Lizard in Cleveland, said the kitchen may look fully staffed during a busy lunch rush, but he could use a few more sets of hands.

What You Need To Know

  • The Winking Lizard in Cleveland is still dealing with staffing shortages in the summer months

  • The owner said the shortages can limit production and how many customers can be seated

  • The Winking Lizard needs more kitchen staff to serve food faster and fill more tables

“Normally we would have four or five people back here, but right now, we have three,” Lane said in the Winking Lizard’s kitchen. 

Lane said the staffing issue has reduced the output from the kitchen. So for now, he can only use a fraction of the available dining space.

“There’s many times where can’t seat all the tables because we need to make sure we take care of the guests in a timely manner with all the food coming out of the kitchen,” Lane said. 

Lane said without a full kitchen, he can only use half of his restaurant, which also can limit how many tables he can turn.

In the summer, Lane uses their outdoor patio and closes the indoor area of the restaurant. He said the outdoor space is usually a way to boost sales in the summer. 

“We’d love to use both, but again, without the kitchen help, can’t do it,” Lane said. “Guests would get way too upset because it would take way too long for their food to come out.”

Lane said while many restaurants struggle to hire wait staff, they are lucky to have a full roster. But he said it doesn’t matter since short staffing at his restaurant is in the back of the house. 

Lane said there is one upside to having a patio. 

“Post-pandemic, people are still more comfortable sitting outside than they are sitting on the inside,” he said. “So we’re just blessed that we have it.”