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Restaurants struggle to hire, get customers in the door as pandemic drags on

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Posted at 10:26 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 23:59:20-04

Many industries have struggled during this pandemic, especially restaurants — from restrictions to hiring back workers.

"We’ve shut down a day just this last week, we shut down lunch at one of our locations because we just didn’t have the staff to do it," said Todd Johns, owner of Plowboys Barbecue.

It’s been a continuous struggle to fill positions throughout the pandemic for Johns.

"You accept 10 applications, you get three that actually shows up for the interview and maybe one actually shows up for the job," he said.

Johns says he’s increased pay and thought when the federal unemployment benefits ended early in Missouri it would bring workers back, but it didn't.

"We did not see a change when Missouri made their change, we did not see a change in more people coming back to work at all," Johns said.

Over in the River Market, Marty Enslein, co-owner of The Farmhouse, told KSHB 41 News it's the lack of constant customers that have made running a restaurant more difficult.

"We’re still not able to open up seven days a week like we’re used to," Enslein said. "We’re just not seeing the volume of people coming down here than what we were used to pre-COVID."

Enslein is hoping to get the attention of lawmakers in Washington to enact the restaurant revitalization fund, injecting billions of dollars to help restaurants stay afloat as most have not had the type of revenue come in as they did pre-COVID.

"A lot of restaurants are playing catch up," Enslein said.

And as the pandemic carries on, restaurants have to continue to roll with the punches.

"It’s just something that our industry never has had to deal with before," Johns said.