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Bars, restaurants in Nashville having trouble hiring bartenders, servers

(Fox 17 News)

Some bars and restaurants are scrambling to find bartenders and servers as Nashville heads into its busiest tourist season of the year.

As the service industry continues to grow, some service industry employees said there aren’t enough workers.

With Music City’s prominent tourism industry, people flock to the honky tonks on Broadway so that’s exactly where people want to work.

“I definitely think that all the money is going to be on Broadway,” Justine Clifford said. “That's where everyone goes.”

Justine Clifford is the main hostess at Pour House in the Gulch where she said there’s a need for bartenders and servers.

“We have some great bartenders for sure that work their tails off, but the extra hands would be very helpful,” Clifford said.

Pour House isn’t the only place hiring service industry positions. Tennessee’s low unemployment rate means most already have jobs despite an new bars and restaurants consistently opening.

“I mean if you're working on Broadway, you could make $800 to $1,000 a night on the weekends," Austin Smith said. ”Why would you go work on the outskirts of town when you can do that?”

Nashville native Austin Smith owns Party Fowl. Smith said his hot chicken restaurant and bar is doing well.

He has a Gulch location, newly opened Murfreesboro location and a Donelson spot opening soon, but Smith said he knows why establishments outside downtown are struggling to find workers.

“People are moving here every day, and they're moving to the outskirts because the property values are so insane in downtown,” Smith said. “They're moving out there so more restaurants are opening in those areas, but everyone who is moving to town wants to work downtown because the money is fantastic.”

Another factor is that towns farther out, like Murfreesboro, have a bunch of new bars and restaurants. A Murfreesboro bar/restaurant manager said bartenders who used to make the commute all the way to Nashville for work can now stay local.

“We're moving out in rings, and I just think it's going to continue to grow,” Smith said. “The next five to ten years there's no telling what our roads are going to look like, as well as traffic and housing.”

Smith also said most of the people working in bars and restaurants are also trying to make it in the music industry so they prefer to work on Broadway where they can make connections.

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