HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Restaurants nationwide are struggling with staffing shortages. As the busy summer season gets closer, some local spots are getting creative to try to attract new workers.

Cafe Fresco is so short-staffed owner Brian Fertenbaugh has been forced to fill in in the kitchen. Especially as they try to recover, a lack of workers is making things tough for the whole industry.

We’re quite short staffed currently,” Fertenbaugh said. “After all of the money we’ve lost over the last year, to have to say no to business because you can’t support the amount of business coming through the doors because you’re that short staffed, is pretty frustrating.”

It’s a problem General Manager John Henning says Simply Turkey has seen too. Now they’re preparing for a busy summer season.

“We’re certainly planning on that rush. We’re not gearing down by any stretch of the imagination, we’re full steam ahead ,” Henning said.

To try to find new hires he got creative, offering $200 dollar Simply Turkey giftcards to anyone who made a successful refferal.

“Believe it or not we’re going to have to pay out for that. You have to be adaptive in this environment and in this case it certainly paid off for us,” Henning said.

Cafe Fresco is also turning to incentives, promising a $500 sign on bonus, on the spot hiring, and higher hourly pay than pre-pandemic.

“At this point we don’t have a choice other than to get employees in the door,” Fertenbaugh said.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association wants the government to take it one step further. President John Longstreet says they’re urging leaders to use some of the federal money Pennsylvania is getting from the American Rescue Plan to offer direct payments to people who return to work.

It’s something state leaders in Connecticut are already doing.

“We applaud Connecticut for doing that and hope that Governor Wolf and the legislature in Pennsylvania follow suit in providing incentives for folks to get back to work in our state too,” Longstreet said.

They all hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel and that incentives will be the recipe for success.

Both Cafe Fresco and Simply Turkey are hiring and still offering those incentives.

If you want to apply for a job at Cafe Fresco you can call them at (717)236-2599 or walk in to 215 N 2nd St, Harrisburg, PA 17101.

If you want to apply for a job at Simply Turkey you can call them at (717) 909-2013 or walk in to 4455 N Front St, Harrisburg, PA 17110.