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West Texas restaurant owner is struggling to fill job openings

Restaurants like Fuentes continue to struggle to find workers to fill the positions.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Fuentes Café Downtown is one of the many businesses which sat quietly during the early stages of COVID-19. Its business has picked up a little. However, with 10 job openings, restaurants like Fuentes continue to struggle to find workers to fill the positions. 

John Fuentes, who has been in the restaurant industry for 37 years, laid off 10 employees this time last year, including a mixture of part-time and full-time workers. 

Fuentes said he has never seen this number of people not apply throughout the many years he's worked in the restaurant business. 

"We've always had a good pool of employees to choose from cause we hire from ASU. We hire from the culinary arts departments both at our local high schools at Lake View and Central," Fuentes said. 

However, he is changing the way he seeks out employers to fill the positions at his restaurant. 

"We've got a Facebook page and an Instagram page, and so we've posted some job postings through there, and that's been successful, but at the same time, there are still some openings that we need to fill," Fuentes said. 

Fuentes said position openings range from servers, a manager, and kitchen line cooks.

Robert Puls, director of business services with Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, said being worried for one's health in the midst of COVID-19 is part of this challenge. 

"They're doing unemployment and that along with the subsidies that they're getting. A lot of those folks are not getting jobs until economically they're better off with the unemployment and the other assistance that comes along with it," Puls said. 

To help meet local business hiring needs, the Abilene Industrial Foundation plans to host the Hire Now Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, at the Rose Park Recreation Center.