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Manhattan Restaurant Jobs Go Begging, Hobbling Industry Comeback

Labor crunch is crimping businesses just as New York starts to bounce back after a brutal year.

Servers assisting customers outside of a busy restaurant in the West Village neighborhood of New York, on April 28.

Servers assisting customers outside of a busy restaurant in the West Village neighborhood of New York, on April 28.

Photographer: Amir Hamja/Bloomberg

Manhattan’s restaurants are struggling with a labor shortage that threatens to hobble the industry’s comeback just as it’s getting started.

Experienced restaurant employees who fled New York during last year’s lockdown are in no hurry to come back while tourists and office workers are still home. After a year of pandemic pain, the shortage is clouding otherwise hopeful signs for dining, as restaurants and bars sign new leases, vaccinated New Yorkers prepare to splurge and the city pushes to fully reopen in July.