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Restaurant on The Hill pares down its menu to address labor shortage

Staffing problems began during the pandemic, when the restaurant went down to just four workers.

ST. LOUIS — Like many others in St. Louis' restaurant industry, Anthony Devoti has had trouble finding enough staff to cover shifts at his Italian eatery on The Hill, J. Devoti Trattoria.

Staffing problems began during the pandemic, when his restaurant, which opened in 2006 as Five Bistro and is located at 5100 Daggett Ave., went down to four workers.

For a while, that worked, as J. Devoti offered a selection of about six à la carte dishes, including the restaurant's pastas and pizzas.

But a cook left recently, leaving only Devoti to staff the kitchen.

That prompted him to make a big change, announced last week: J. Devoti will now offer a table d’hôte menu — one in which customers pick a multicourse meal, offered at a fixed total price of about $75 with wine, from a few options. That will be offered on the weekend's three evenings, with a menu released on Wednesdays; on Thursdays, it will offer only pizza, salad and dessert. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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"A small tasting style menu is something that I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve just had my hand forced at this point to move forward with that plan," Devoti wrote in announcing the changes. "I can promise you that I will always put forth my finest effort for my passion of cooking."

Prix-fixe menus have grown in popularity in recent years, as they can provide restaurants more stability at a time when macroeconomic headwinds and supply chain snarls threaten to dampen bottom lines.

Workers’ viewpoints on job conditions, hours and pay have changed since COVID-19 upended many traditional work norms in the U.S., with recent labor skirmishes among railroad workers and nurses making headlines.

Many economists say an imbalance of supply and demand is at the root of the U.S.' current economic challenges. Meanwhile, Labor Department data show the supply of workers decreasing despite continued efforts from the Federal Reserve to cool the labor market and bring down near-record inflation.

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

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