V Pizza, a pizza restaurant chain based in Jacksonville, Florida, faced criticism when a sign displayed in the window of one of its Georgia franchise locations stirred up negative reactions among customers. The corporate office of the franchise has now spoken out against their Georgia colleague for posting a sign that expressed frustration about the challenges of finding employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, attributing it to the government assistance provided to individuals struggling in the wake of America’s economic collapse.

The sign in question, which sparked controversy, read: “Regrettably, due to government aid, fewer individuals are willing to work nowadays. Consequently, our staff is understaffed. We kindly ask for your patience with the dedicated employees who chose to serve you today, and please remember to show your appreciation by leaving a gratuity.”

As social media users caught wind of the negative sentiment emanating from the Georgia pizza franchise, one user took a snapshot of the sign and shared it on Twitter, stating, “Disappointing to see this from @VPizzaJax.”

Quick to point out the irony, social media users highlighted that several V Pizza restaurants had received substantial amounts of money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to retain their employees. The company utilized this government support to rehire staff members they had previously been forced to lay off due to the pandemic, effectively helping their business remain afloat.

Paul Scott, the franchise owner, informed News4Jax that upon learning about the sign being displayed via social media, he promptly requested the owner of the Georgia location to remove it from the business window.

“There are numerous issues with that sign and its wording,” he stated. “However, it does reflect the reality that everyone is facing challenges in hiring. The truth is, our staff members typically earn around $14-$15 per hour. When individuals are at home with children and they weigh the costs of daycare against the financial assistance they can receive, it’s understandable that they make choices that prioritize their families.”

He further emphasized, “Indeed, we are currently understaffed, but not to an extreme extent. Our workforce demonstrates exceptional dedication each day, and as owners, we strive to support them in every way possible.”

Throughout the pandemic, the state of Florida, led by Governor Ron DeSantis, provided an additional $300 per week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits. However, there have been discussions about discontinuing this benefit in order to incentivize people to “return to work.”

Governor DeSantis remarked in a May press conference, “We are now transitioning from crisis relief to a more conventional approach to reemployment.”