The owners of a New Orleans caterer are said to be washing dishes themselves because workers aren't showing up to events

The owners of a New Orleans caterer are said to be washing dishes themselves because workers aren't showing up to events
Hospitality staff are in short supply.Courtesy of Winona Grey
  • New Orleans caterer Pigéon Catering told Fox Business it's struggling to find staff.
  • Its owners often have to wash dishes themselves, an employee said.

The holiday season is in full swing but the labor shortage appears to have left at least one catering company struggling to find enough workers to staff festive events.

In an interview with Fox Business, Dean Pigéon, co-owner of New Orleans-based Pigéon Catering, said he often wouldn't know if he had enough staff until an event was about to begin. Recently, as many as 50% of his recruits wouldn't show up to work, he said.

"We'll order 30 dishwashers, servers, and bartenders, hoping to get 20 and we might get 15," Pigéon said. "It's a big-time struggle. It's like, 'where did everybody go?'"

Leah Berhaneo, director of sales and marketing at Pigéon Catering, told Fox Business that management often had to step in to plug staff shortages.

"If a carver doesn't show up, somebody has to put a chef's coat on and go out and carve for the night," she said. "Or if a dishwasher is missing, I can't tell you how many times an owner has had to become a dishwasher themselves."


Hospitality is one of the sectors worst affected by the labor crunch, and has reported the highest quit rate of all industries over the past few months.

Experts say workers are quitting hospitality jobs at higher rates because they are generally frontline service jobs that are more sensitive to COVID-19. Hospitality jobs often offer lower wages, a lack of benefits, and limited job security – so some workers have taken advantage of a tight job market to switch to better-paying jobs with more stability.

Some businesses are finding it tough to woo back former workers and are raising pay or offering new benefits to make these jobs more attractive.

"That's a reflection of the fact that employers are also recognizing that it's going to be difficult to hire for the foreseeable future," Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider. "They are switching more towards permanent pay increases because they perceive a long-term structural challenge to hiring. "