Owners of a popular Korean restaurant on Dominion Rd have been forced to stop taking dine-in customers because they can't get any waiting staff.
Joo Gye Son and her husband Il Seong Lee own Kang Chon, a Korean Chinese restaurant midway down Dominion Rd which specialises in dishes like jajangmyeon, jjampong and kkanpunggi.
They have been in business for 24 years, about half of that time in the current premises.
But the couple have stopped their dine-in service because they can't find any front-of-house or waiting staff, and are currently operating their restaurant only as a takeaway.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois, who described the industry's staffing situation as "beyond critical, said staff shortages were prevalent.
The association was running a campaign calling for Government intervention on visa extensions for work visa holders and allowing border exemptions for critical workers in the industry.
"Our Reset campaign, which called on Government to work with us to help alleviate the critical labour shortage, has resulted in the extension of a number of temporary work visas," she said.
"Whilst this has relieved some of the immediate pressure, we're still working with a dramatically reduced work force."
However, Lee said these had been of little help for him and the business.
"Our pool of front-of-house staff used to come from Korean international students or Korean people who are here on working holiday visas, but now there are none," he said.
Lee said he needed people who understood what the dishes were on the menu, and who could speak Korean to communicate with them and the majority of his customers.
"For a restaurant like ours, serving authentic Korean-Chinese style food, it is hard to hire locals who are not familiar with it," he said.
"Also both my wife and I speak very little English, so it will be hard for us to train them even if we wanted to."
Lee knows his profits will be severely hit by their decision to operate as a takeaway only, but says he doesn't have any other options.
"Now I don't even know whether we will be able to cover operational cost, but we have to try and see if we will survive," he said.
"We have tried everything we can to find waiting staff, we have given up hope."
Customer Grace Park explained that some of the dishes - like tangsuyuk (Korean style sweet and sour pork) and kkanpunggi (a spicy chicken dish) - had to be eaten fresh and don't work as takeaways.
"I think it is inevitable they will lose a lot of customers," Park said.
She used to frequent Kang Chon for oyster jjampong, or spicy oyster noodle soup, but that too has now been taken off the menu.
About a third of the restaurant workforce were on temporary work visas before Covid-19 hit.
Now the figure is about 15 per cent, according to the Restaurant Association.
Bidois said the association had ongoing engagement with Government ministers "to further discuss our issues and work through solutions".