In Furnas parish, São Miguel, one of the island’s tourist hotspots where meals are cooked in the volcanic calderas through geothermal heat, the restaurants consider the lack of manpower “very serious.”

“It’s very serious, really grave. People here are working a day or two and then leave. There aren’t the workers to work. The blame here is in the Minimum Wage,” Ana Oliveira, a restaurant owner in central Furnas, told Lusa.

According to her, the labour shortage “is universal” to all restaurants in Povoação municipality.

Because of that, the businesswoman said she’d already rehearsed a way around the situation: “We close early at lunch and dinner. The customers complain, but we can’t be blamed for a lack of manpower.”

The previous Monday, the establishment had been “completely full,” and the entrepreneur said she had to “close earlier” because the people she has working “can’t do everything.”

In the case of Dalisa Cardoso, owner of a restaurant on Terceira Island, the solution was also to shorten opening hours at lunch and dinner.

“It’s not easy to find workers. I understand the timetable is difficult to work around, but no one from the islands or the wider world has shown interest,” she admitted to Lusa.

According to the business owner, there’s recruits who end up working “one or two days, and then give up.”

“This happens in the restaurant sector and in a large part of customer-oriented services. It’s in nearly everything, and then they bet on tourism, and it reaches a point of saturation, there’s not enough people to keep everything in order,” she vented.

The same opinion was manifested by businessman Filipe Cabral, owner of a restaurant in Capelas, São Miguel Island.

“We have our team but we’re often looking for some workers and it’s difficult. What people want more of are office jobs,” Filipe Cabral lamented.

On Flores, Martin Stiner, owner of a restaurant on the island, stated that “it’s very difficult to find a team” to assure the establishment’s running until September.

“We actually have a good team, but it was very difficult to find it, we’re lacking motivated people who have a will to work and experience” in the field, he shared, assuring it “wasn’t necessary” to rely on labour from another island.

Even then though, Martin Stiner had to close the terrace because of a lack of people to man it.

Other business owners in the Azores told Lusa they had overcome the situation by going to family members for help.

It’s the case of Marcelo Costa, in charge of a restaurant in Ponta Delgada. “We’re 11 people in the restaurant, five of which are my family. Like this, it’s easier to make the timetables. Otherwise, we’d have to close sooner,” he explained, pointing to “a lack of specialised labour,” namely cooks and waiters.

Yulia Chornomordenko, who manages recruitment at a restaurant on the island of Faial, also admitted having difficulties contracting new workers, mainly after the pandemic.

“We have the minimum team to assure the restaurant’s functioning. What we did was limit space, especially in Summer, when we decided not to open the terrace.”