The Italian chef says rising rents and the fallout from Brexit means fewer people are arriving from abroad to work in the capital’s hospitality industry.
Mazzei, who will open his third restaurant with D&D London this week, told BigHospitality that it was getting very hard to find people for new launches.
“We’re suffering as we can’t find staff,” he says.
“We pay good money, but the problem is how much they pay on rent and travel cards. The UK is expensive compared to the rest of Europe, and now with the problems with the Euro and the pound it’s even worse.
“The guys say, I can make £1,200 a month in London where the cost of living is £1,000, or the same in Milan where costs are £700…so people don’t come to London anymore.
“People [are staying] in Italy, there’s better weather, they can put more money aside and stay close to home. Of course, some will come to the UK to learn English, but they can go to America and do that and earn more.”
A KPMG report commissioned by the British Hospitality Association this year estimates that 75% of UK waiting staff and 25% of chefs are from other EU countries.
Mazzei moved from Italy to work at The Dorchester in Mayfair in the early 1990s, and will launch Fiume at Battersea Power Station on 17 November.
He says he is unsure of the solution to the staffing issue, but warned that the unstable flow of workers could hinder the performance of UK restaurants.
“I wouldn’t think to expand to 10 more restaurants with the way the situation is at the moment, that’s for sure,” says Mazzei.
“Sometimes if you don’t have enough staff or the right staff you can’t make your restaurant full because you can’t deliver.
“Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t happen at my restaurants – and I hope it never will – but you have to be ready for the worst case scenario.”
Watch out for BigHospitality’s full interview with Francesco Mazzei on his new restaurant Fiume later this week.