The restaurant industry faces an unprecedented labor shortage, leaving restaurants scrambling to manage their operations. With fewer employees available to handle the workload, restaurants need to find ways of simplifying tasks and reducing labor costs. Fortunately, there are a number of commercial products on the market that can help restaurants survive employee shortages while still maintaining high-quality standards. In this article, we'll look at why the food industry is so understaffed and how technology can be used as a solution to these problems. We'll also provide a buying guide for commercial equipment that can replace employees to keep businesses running smoothly during tough times.

Why Is The Food Industry So Understaffed?

The food industry is being hit hard and fast by what they are calling the 'great resignation' — with many longtime workers deciding to look elsewhere for sustainable employment because of their negative experiences before the pandemic. This could be attributed to low wages, a need for a work-life balance, and a lack of recognition. Before COVID-19, restaurant employees were pushed to their mental and physical limits to keep up with demand – only to have these same people laid off or furloughed when times got tough. Now that the pandemic has eased, employers are attempting to hire back workers, but are finding many of them are no longer interested in returning. This lack of staffing means that not only are restaurants suffering from decreased productivity, but it also goes against longtime industry practices aiming at sustainability and filling positions with those formerly employed by the company. The future of food establishments remains uncertain as the current problem persists.

What Are Restaurants Doing To Help Manage Labor Shortages?

In an effort to adjust to labor shortages, restaurants are exploring different alternatives to fill their staffing needs. Automation of mundane tasks is quickly becoming a popular solution, and many restaurants are investing in technology like self-order kiosks and mobile ordering services that can help streamline ordering processes and reduce the need for a large staff. Additionally, many restaurants have implemented incentive programs to reward loyalty and encourage longer-term employees. From offering flexible schedules to incentivizing referrals, the goal is to get quality workers on board that can remain part of the team long-term. Finally, research has shown that restaurants installing virtual reality simulation training systems have seen great results in training both existing and new employees quickly and efficiently. With all these strategies, it will be interesting to see how they effectively adapt as staffing challenges continue.

Why Are Restaurants Turning To Technology To Help With Labor Shortages?

With the labor shortage problem spreading across the restaurant industry, many restaurateurs are turning to technology to fill the gap. Robotics, automation, and smart kitchen systems like computer vision and predictive analytics have made leaps and bounds in recent years and are increasingly looked upon as viable options for tackling labor shortages. While these technologies often promise considerable gains in efficiency, accuracy, and overall guest experience, they also come with potential danger. Because they are still being developed, many might be challenging to use or constantly malfunction, which can drastically reduce customer satisfaction or increase liabilities if they do not provide reliable performance. For this reason, restaurants need to be diligent when investing in technology to combat labor shortages – opting for solutions that are low risk yet capable of providing maximum benefit.

Labor-Saving Equipment

While robotics and smart kitchens might be exactly what the food industry needs right now, this technology is currently in development and is yet to be available to businesses. Despite this, restaurants are still turning to technology, but not a new technology – labor-saving commercial equipment. Equipment like cotton candy machines and tabletop ovens can help streamline processes while reducing staff numbers. Not only do they offer increased efficiency and accuracy, but some also allow customers to serve themselves, which can drastically reduce the need for additional employees. As such, investing in commercial equipment is becoming increasingly popular among restaurateurs looking for reliable solutions to help them navigate this challenging time.

Vacuum Packaging Machines

Vacuum packaging machines or Sous vide machines can streamline the food preparation process in commercial kitchens, providing chefs with improved control, accuracy, and consistency. The sous vide technique of vacuum-sealing food in a pouch before it is cooked in a temperature-controlled water bath yields more tender, flavorful meals with minimal guesswork and consistent results. Since most of the cooking is done ahead of time, chefs don't have to worry about supervising delicate ingredients, which usually require constant attention. Sous vide machines also enable restaurants to cook large batches ahead of time for easy reheating, reducing labor costs and increasing quality control for created dishes. Ultimately, sous vide technology offers commercial kitchens an efficient way to produce high-quality dishes without consuming too many resources.

sous vide machine

Cotton Candy Machines

Cotton candy machines provide a great opportunity to elevate the experience created for customers. A cotton candy machine can be an interactive and exciting addition to events such as weddings, corporate functions, or graduation parties. Cotton candy machines can quickly produce large amounts of fluffy and colorful cotton candy, requiring no extra staff members. Their simple operation allows caterers or a single employee to easily manage them and give their guests an unforgettable treat in minutes. The whimsical nature of these sugary concoctions will bring joy to children and adults alike. Furthermore, adding a cotton candy machine to any event provides tremendous value for caterers. It creates excitement and a buzz surrounding the event and drives more customers — all without sacrificing additional labor costs.

cotton candy machine



Food dehydrators help extend food's shelf life, reducing staff demands by limiting waste management needs and coating items before cooking. It also allows a more extensive range of items to fit on the menu without difficulty or change in quality, reducing manual labor invested in the service provided. Through innovative applications of dehydrated ingredients, operators can give each dish incredible texture, visual appeal, and taste. By successfully investing in this technology, they can enjoy top-notch products and optimize their resource investment and overall output from the kitchen.

food dehydrator


Hot Dog Rollers / Steamers

Hot dog rollers and steamers are an invaluable addition for any catering service looking to create a unique, exciting experience that will leave customers satisfied. With hot dog rollers and steamers on hand, caterers can offer delicious, fully-cooked hot dogs without needing extra staff members. Not only does this benefit caterers by preserving their margin profits, but it also adds more value to the customer's experience as they can enjoy self-served food without worrying about potential overcrowding or lack of personnel. For those looking to add a bit of flavor and pizzazz to their catering event, all while cutting costs, tabletop hot dog rollers and steamers are perfect!

hot dog roller


Tabletop griddles are essential equipment for chefs and restaurant operators. The added control they offer allows chefs to adjust to personal heat preferences and give patrons a unique experience with every order. With tabletop griddles, chefs can provide faster service, reducing the need for additional staff. This efficiency helps support more stringent food regulations while providing restaurant operators the ability to serve higher-quality meals that keep customers coming back for more. In today's competitive dining industry, restaurants need all the right tools – and tabletop griddles are key investments in giving top-notch service.

countertop griddle

Popcorn Machines

Popcorn machines are perfect for all types of events, as they offer an opportunity to upgrade the service customers receive. Not only can popcorn machines help boost a caterer's appeal and make catering events more memorable, but they are also easy to set and clean up, which would normally require extra employees. Guests will be delighted at their experience eating freshly made popcorn at events, and this delight can easily outweigh the potential investment costs. Popcorn machines provide value-added services, making up for the lack of employees or allowing catering companies to reduce overhead costs. Furthermore, having a popcorn machine makes event planning much simpler as caterers no longer have to worry about providing popcorn in some other form.

popcorn machine

Countertop Ovens

Countertop ovens offer precise cooking and reheating and more efficient use of kitchen space. With innovative features like convection heat technology and multiple cook functions, countertop ovens boost the quality of overall food preparation, offering an enhanced quality that translates into greater value for customers. The most efficient countertop ovens are also designed with energy savings in mind, reducing costs while maximizing output. Plus, they eliminate the need for staff to manually monitor and adjust multiple cooking elements since these appliances do it all automatically. As a result, restaurants can save money on staffing expenses while generating more revenue in sales due to greater ease of use, quicker turnaround time, and high-quality dishes. Overall, deploying thoughtful use of countertop ovens is an incredibly effective way for restaurants to maximize their profits while ensuring customer satisfaction at every turn.

countertop oven

Snow Cone Machines

Snow cone machines provide a great way to add value to the customer's experience without needing multiple employees. These snow cone machines can crush 385 pounds of ice per hour, ensuring you can quickly and efficiently serve a high volume of guests at your establishment. The great thing about snow cones is that they cater to all ages, from young children who can enjoy a sweet treat after lunch to adults who may crave something refreshing on a hot summer day. With their versatility, power, and flexibility, snow cone machines offer caterers plenty of reasons to use this powerful tool in creating exceptional events for their customers.

snow cone machine

Electric Deep Fryers

Electric deep fryers are a great asset to chefs and restaurant operators by enabling them to quickly and efficiently serve food to their customers that are well-cooked and packed with flavor. These devices require minimal maintenance effort, giving restaurant operators more time and energy to focus on other service areas. For example, they may be able to reduce the staff needed in kitchen areas by relying on deep countertop fryers for more consistent results every time. This technology provides superior quality assurance for customers, as consistent outcomes are now produced with less human oversight. As such, countertop deep fryers can help restaurant operators elevate the experience they create for their customers while simultaneously resulting in greater value overall due to a reduced need for staff.

deep fryers

Hamburger Presses

In an age where convenience and efficiency are highly valued, restaurant operators and chefs alike can find a lot of benefits in using hamburger presses. Not only do these devices assist in creating consistent quality burgers, but their automated design also helps streamline the cooking process for any kitchen staff – thus reducing the personnel cost associated with making those burgers. In addition to the financial benefits, hamburger presses enable restaurants to offer their customers burgers that have fresh vibrancy, appealing shape, and great taste. It's no surprise that popular fast-food chains have integrated burger presses into their production processes – it's just another way to give customers better service.

hamburger press

Work Smarter Not Harder

With the right tools, restaurants can offer higher-quality food while reducing staff costs and maximizing profits. Investing in these devices is an effective way of keeping your business afloat during employee shortages. You'll be able to provide customers with delicious meals they won't forget! So if you're looking for ways to stay competitive despite labor shortages, investing in quality kitchen appliances is one avenue worth exploring.