Orange County restaurateurs don't seem to have much of an appetite for the immigration reform act, contending that it is costly and time consuming. And customers could find it distasteful, too, if meal tabs increase to help cover higher costs, as some industry sources predict.
It is a problem that is especially severe in Orange County, which was coping with a near-critical shortage of workers even before the Immigration and Naturalization Service act passed.
The county's affluence--underscored by a median income of $42,000 and median housing price of $168,656--has long put restaurants in a bind when it comes to filling unskilled jobs. Those who have no pressing need to work have little enthusiasm for low-pay, low-prestige jobs such as busboys and dishwashers. And the shortage has been exacerbated by a declining number of teen-agers and high turnover in the fast-food industry.
Many of the jobs have been filled by undocumented immigrants who could not find work elsewhere, but with those workers now legally unavailable, more and more restaurants have been forced to scramble to fill vacancies.