ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A French Quarter small bar owner has said times are tough at the moment because he can’t find enough staff to work for him, forcing him to suffer the utter humiliation of working in a customer-facing role in his own business.

The Back Slap Inn licensee and owner Conor Smooth-Gooch told The Advocate that he has “half a dozen” job vacancies at the moment that range from back-of-house to mixologists to kitchen hands. He’s had those vacancies for over six months.

“Nobody wants to work anymore,” he said.

“So many nights, I lay awake in bed wondering how the bar is coping because they’re understaffed and under the pump. My anxiety has gotten so bad, I’ve actually gone in to work and started picking up glasses a few times. It’s really bad.”

Conor wishes that we could go back to 2019 when it was better for everyone, especially him.

“I had enough staff, and we had a really good team on. They were tight, and we had people working at the Back Slap that loved working there. Now, we can’t find anyone, and the people who do work there complain about things like me only paying them a set amount of hours each week and that I’m not up to date on their super payments,” he said.

“I’m out here creating jobs for people. I’m trying to make a go of it, and all I get is lefties trying to tear me down for some grey-area underpayment. It’s hard out there in the business world.”

Again recounting the time before the spicy cough, Conor said he had a more hands-off role at the pub, which suited his lifestyle better.

“Like, I just used to pay for stock, rent, utilities, and staff wages, and the rest was mine. Like it was work, but like I didn’t have to deal with customers. I just had to sign the BAS that my accountant would send me each quarter, and that was that. It was a simpler time,”

“I have to work in my own bar to service my car loan. It’s disgusting.”

More to come.


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