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Several Eastern Kentucky restaurants struggling to meet demand due to lack of workers

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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(WYMT) - Several restaurants across the region are struggling, but not for the reason you might think.

For many, business revenue is the best it has been in a while, however, there are not enough employees to go around.

One example being Hot Rod’s Pizza in Hindman.

“No one wants to work and the people I do have, they have absolutely bent over backwards to try to help us make this work and have worked themselves to death,” Manager of Hot Rod’s Pizza Tammy Fields said.

With many owners and managers having to pick up the slack, including Brad Shepherd, owner and manager of Heritage Kitchen in Whitesburg.

“I’m working more hours now and more hours doing the work that the employees do instead of doing my paperwork, which I’m now taking home and doing at midnight,” Shepherd said.

And leaving some to make hard decisions, like Bruce Melton, owner of the once 24/7 Hazard diner Circle T.

“There’s a possibility we may have to start closing one day a week if it continues to go the way it’s going. Right now, we look to be open seven days a week during 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” Melton said.

Shepherd says an additional unknown problem is a lack of product and delivery times.

“We’ve been out of almost everything in the restaurant last week at one point or another...waiting on a truck to get here and your idea is not running to the grocery store to make up the difference,” Shepherd said.

Melton says he asks customers to be patient, despite difficult wait times.

“We have people sitting here an hour waiting to get food. Maybe an hour and 15 or 20 minutes, some of them even got up and left at that point and I don’t expect anybody to sit here for an hour waiting on food,” Melton said.

For Fields and Shepherd, a common theme was despite new staff being hired, many of the workers were fresh faced and lacked experience.

All restaurants are currently accepting applications.

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