Jason Atherton says staff shortage may mean restaurant closures next year
Chef-restaurateur Jason Atherton has warned he may have to close some of his restaurants in the new year due to staffing shortages.
Atherton told the Evening Standard that he had 350 vacancies across the Social Company – approximately a third of his workforce.
He told the paper: "I can't open the Berners Tavern at lunchtime because I have no staff. I can only open for breakfasts for hotel guests. Social Eating House is on its knees. I just can't get any chefs for that kitchen whatsoever. Little Social is really struggling to get chefs as well. I can't even find a qualified corporate chef on a big salary who would fly around the world on business class. I can't do anything to fill that position."
The chef operates seven restaurants in London, including Berners Tavern, Pollen Street Social, and the Michelin-starred City Social.
Atherton announced the end of his involvement with New York's Clocktower restaurant earlier this year and parted ways with IHG in Dubai to pursue his own project.
He also left the Biltmore hotel in London's Mayfair, where he operated the Betterment restaurant. At the time he said there were more openings planned for later in the year with a London site secured for a new concept.
Nearly 40% of hospitality businesses in the UK are believed to be facing skilled worker shortages, which has resulted in an increase in staff poaching and operators having to offer ‘unsustainable' salaries to recruit.
A petition calling for a hospitality worker visa scheme gained nearly 18,000 signatures, but the government said it had "no plan" to introduce a visa route for recruitment at or near the minimum wage "with relatively short training".
Hospitality Rising, a high-profile advertising campaign aimed at tackling the industry's staffing crisis, launched last week with the backing of top chefs including Tom Kerridge, Angela Hartnett, Rick Stein and Raymond Blanc.