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A California deputy mayor is taking matters into her own hands and working part-time at a restaurant to meet a labor shortage.

Sarah Aquino, Deputy Mayor of Folsom, California, is working part-time at Back Bistro, a restaurant that serves American/California food, Her work includes cleaning tables, taking reservations, folding napkins and making customers sit.


Aquino is deputy mayor as well as an insurance broker, but she calls it her civic duty to help keep some local businesses open.

“Of course it’s not something like, you know, asking people to fight in a war,” Aquino said while responding to social media critics. “but [it’s] The idea that you’re doing it for someone more than just yourself.”

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Aquino doesn’t call her job “volunteer work,” as she makes the $14-per-hour minimum wage in California.

The economic impact of the pandemic means that the reduction in revenue from sales tax has resulted in a loss of $3 million for the city, which is about a third of the city’s revenue.

Aquino recalled an instance where she couldn’t buy a hamburger from a local fast food restaurant because it didn’t have enough employees to stay open.

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A city council member in Folsom opened a restaurant during the height of the pandemic and found that one of her biggest issues was hiring staff. Restaurant owner Keri Howell says if the restaurant is open, he is there.

“The chef and I are partners, and we’re here basically every hour as long as the restaurant is open, unless I have to go to a city council meeting,” she said. “The workplace for everyone has changed dramatically.”

The hiring problem extends far beyond restaurants in Folsom and has prompted some businesses to limit services.

The Hampton Inn in Folsom is cutting down on available rooms. The hotel has 147 rooms but only 117 are available due to staff shortage.

“I was turning people away with 30 rooms (available). Ridiculous,” said general manager Enid Baldock.