CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- If you have had to wait a little while for your food or a server at a restaurant, you are not alone.

Since COVID, many restaurants have had trouble finding and keeping staff.

The problem still remains, even three years after the start of the pandemic.

Popular Chinese restaurant Red Lantern can't keep its dining room open.

A sign at the front says due to staffing shortages, it doesn't have a waiter for sit-down service. Customers are welcome to sit down and eat their takeout inside the restaurant, but everything is self-service.

One worker said they've been looking for someone to wait tables and answer phones.

But they find themselves asking the same questions as other restaurants: Where did everyone go? And why don't they want to work?


"That's probably what affects the customer. People come in and they want the service. And when we tell them we don't have waiter service, usually they'll get carryout but they seem like they'd rather sit down and eat," said two workers, Rigo and Vickie.

They said it makes them feel bad to turn people away because they used to be really busy for dine-in. But the service industry is still struggling.