Louisville, southern Indiana eating places are combating staffing points when diners return

Just four days after opening in NuLu, The Seafood Lady is finally ready.

Louisville, southern restaurants face staff shortages

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“We are now ready to go.”

Owner and cook Nichelle Thurston spent Tuesday training her staff and finalizing details before the opening on Jefferson Street. However, she said it was not easy to find the staff, so rental signs were still on the front windows of the restaurant.

“So many other restaurants are experiencing the same workforce drought that many talented employees are already employed or not looking,” Thurston said.

They hired about 75% of the staff they needed, enough to get them through the first month. Thurston said she needed 11 more vacancies. Even if she got the staff, it took her longer than expected and there are still jobs advertised.

“The opportunities are there. There are many opportunities to make really good money in our industry with a flexible schedule,” said Stacy Roof.

The shortage comes at a bad time as more people return to restaurants after vaccination. Stacy Roof of the Kentucky Restaurant Association said there could be many reasons behind the hiring battle.

She said some workers did not have childcare and the children were still home at school. Others have been laid off and found new jobs during the pandemic, while some remain unemployed or have switched industries.

“We need skilled professionals to come back and fill their jobs that were unfortunately left open last year with all the openings and closings and back and forth and all that, but we are ready for them and we hope they come back in droves. ” Roof said.

Roof said it was not only a problem in Louisville, but also a national and national problem.

“I think that probably goes for most industries. A year is a long time to go through this. I don’t think either of us thought this would take more than a couple of months to deal with the pandemic I’m sure there are people out there who have found other ways to make a living, who enjoy them, or who are flexible as it should be in a restaurant, “said Roof.

While customers returning to restaurants may provide some relief, restaurants continue to face capacity constraints, social distancing requirements, and curfew.

“We’re confident that the governor’s office will give us a timeline of what to plan,” said Roof, trying to figure out when Kentucky restaurants will be back to normal. “We need people now. We needed people last week, we’re going to need more people next month and the months after, so we love being able to plan that.”

a close up of a fork and knife

© Provided by WHAS-TV Louisville

The staff shortage even included the closure of an area restaurant, Portage , in Jeffersonville. Owner and chef Dallas McGarity wrote in a Facebook post: “We haven’t found any employees to join our already small in many months – hopefully we can reopen soon.”

“It’s really bad. It got to a point where I had to think about closing a few days or changing my business hours or reducing my business hours. Fortunately, we did it so badly,” Thurston said. “It swayed and it was a little better, but not exactly where it needs to be.”

Both Thurston and Roof encourage customers and diners to give restaurants a little grace.

“We’re new and have been working a bit understaffed,” said Thurston. Just be a little patient with us and we’ll get it right. “

While she is working to hire the rest of the staff, she will open The Seafood Lady’s second location on Saturday.

“I get very excited and nervous,” said Thurston. “We started not far from this area in 2015 and are really excited to come back here. NuLu is growing really fast and fast so this community is a good place to be.”

The restaurant’s closing opening on South Hancock and East Jefferson Streets will be on Saturday April 10th. This includes a red carpet, flamethrower, face painting and door prizes. Thurston said the mayor will also be separated on the opening Saturday at 1 p.m.

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