WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — According to the National Restaurant Association, although employment numbers are on the rise, the restaurant industry is still feeling the brunt of the pandemic.

Owner of the Highlander Pub House Erik Scott said even with bumping up wages and opportunities for growth, he’s still finding it difficult to find more employees.

Scott has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years and said he’s never found it this difficult to find employees willing to work.

“This is new ground for the entire industry, it’s everywhere. I have friends in New York and LA, and they’re all telling me the same story, so it’s very interesting. The industry is having to adjust really quickly,” Scott said.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry remains at more than 630,000 jobs lower than pre-pandemic levels and Scott has his theory on the reason behind the crippling stats.

“One of the reasons is, I think the employees are expecting to be treated better. I know I did when I was a line cook. I got treated like crap and I would’ve liked to be treated better so it could be some of that and it could be. I just think the pandemic gave people time to reevaluate what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it,” Scott said.

He said thanks to community support and his current staff, he hasn’t had to close down or alter his hours of operation.

“We’ve been lucky. I’ve got a good staff, and like I said, I try to treat them well and I don’t mind working open to close if I have to to make things happen. So we have not had to alter our hours, but like I said, I have friends all over the country and many have and it’s really strange to see to big corporate restaurants having to alter their hours,” Scott said.

Scott said he’s tried just about everything in hopes of encouraging more folks to come in and apply.

“We pay more obviously because you have to just start paying more than before but I mean with inflation I pay more so I have to charge more on my menus because beef costs more so I need to pay my cooks to cook that beef more,” Scott said.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Scott said over the past few months, things in his restaurant have been slowly getting back to what we know as normal.

Scott is hiring for multiple positions at Highlander Pub and said if you are interested in applying all you need to do is come in during normal business hours.