HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Clayton Rollison loves food, and he loves Hilton Head Island.
But, what he doesn’t love is the problem many businesses are having finding people to work on the island.
He says it’s all based not on how much they get paid, but where someone wants to or can live.
“This isn’t a money issue, everyone is doing well,” Rollison says. He is the owner of Lucky Rooster restaurant on Hilton Head.
The money is there for restaurants like Lucky Rooster, which can make profit margins of 7-10% percent. And the staff can make $30,000-50,000 a year.
But Clayton Rollison says there’s not enough staff in kitchens across Hilton Head–including his.
“There’s a big skill gap, especially in our area,” Rollison says. “We have no culinary school.
“Even the guys that live out on Bluffton on a Saturday (that) have to be in at 3:30 p.m.–they leave at 1 or 1:15 p.m.”
That’s because there’s no affordable housing on the island; making anyone who was once “lucky” to have a job here think twice..
“Even once they accept the position, they will come in, they’ll start training, they’ll be here a week or two, and they’ll say, ‘You know we love the restaurant, but the commute is just too much. I can’t do this.’
“People that would drive from Bluffton to the island town to work, don’t have to anymore. They don’t need to, and I understand that. Nobody wants to travel an hour or two hours when you can walk to work or bike to work.”
Lucky Rooster is three people down. They had to shut down for one day over eight weeks causing them to lose $30,000-50,000.
And, they have spent more on training so far this year than any time before. Clayton says the extra money is worth it for the customer now, but if no one shines a light on it…
“I don’t have a bunch of partners. This is a family business; me and my wife. We kind of hoodwinked some family members into securing a note–thank my mother for that. At the end of the day, it’s her and I, and it’s tough.”
As part of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, Clayton is one of the local owners banding together to call for changes.
The first change on the list?
More affordable places to live on Hilton Head Island.