Staff shortages may delay new café opening at Charing Cross

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Ella and Drew Locke had planned to open Locke’s Stories in the historic Foot Building this month – when the new Premier Inn hotel is also due to open.

But a lack of applications for the numerous positions they have available is holding up their plans.

Unlike in the past, when the industry has claimed that a lack of licences to employ non-locals was causing recruitment problems, the Lockes say there are now simply not enough staff – particularly chefs – to go around, even with licences in place.

And it is a pattern that is being repeated across the Island, according to the Jersey Hospitality Association. The body’s president, Fiona Kerley, says that many hotels and restaurants – including her own, the Ommaroo Hotel – are currently short-staffed, with a lack of workers moving to the Island being the main issue.

She added that restaurants and cafés that do not provide staff accommodation – like Locke’s – were particularly finding it tough to attract new workers to the Island. She suggested that businesses turn to teenagers on to help plug the shortages, where possible.

‘It is a general problem. It isn’t really even down to licences, it is down to just not enough people coming over,’ she said.

‘There is a bit of Brexit fear out there and there is possibly a bit of a message, perhaps from people already here, we don’t know, that there are almost no jobs.’

She added: ‘The hospitality sector is paying quite reasonable wages at the moment because it has to otherwise we have got poaching going on.’

Mrs Locke, a former Jersey teacher, said that despite extensive efforts since February there has been hardly any applications for the various jobs they have available, particularly the chef roles.

‘Even advertising it on our social media – Instagram and Facebook, on our coffee cart, handing out flyers in town, speaking in-house to Rowlands Recruitment and putting it on every free Facebook page I could find plus taking the time to take photos and get a promo video made as to what we are about, we still had very little interest,’ she said.

‘There has been very little interest for the kitchen positions particularly,’ she said. ‘The main people that got in touch were students wanting Saturday jobs.

‘The other thing is we have had some interest from people who live abroad and want to come over but the first question they ask is “do you offer staff accommodation?”

‘Which we don’t so we are not an attractive option.’

She added that the business had been granted seasonal work licences and told it could apply for permanent licences when staff were found, although there was no guarantee the licenses would be granted.

‘The recruitment problems will definitely delay our opening – up until this week we had one person who we could invite to a kitchen trial after a good solid two months of trying to recruit.’

Locke’s, which aims to sell ‘great, seasonal where possible, tasty food’ with an artistic flair alongside quality coffee, has chef, kitchen porter, chef de partie, waiting staff and barista positions available. For more information call 07797 813324 or email

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