NewsCovering Kentucky


Worker shortage forces some businesses to change operations

Posted at 5:35 PM, Aug 27, 2021

WINCHESTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some Central Kentucky businesses are being forced to change their operations to make up for staffing shortages.

Business is booming at Gaunce’s Deli & Cafe in Winchester.

“It’s really good, actually,” said owner Jon Gaunce.

But, Gaunce said they’re fighting every day to keep up with demands because they are so short-staffed.

He said they had 15 to 17 employees before the pandemic hit. They’re down to six people now.

“If we lose anybody else we’re in real trouble,” Gaunce said.

Gaunce’s Deli & Cafe will be closed on weekends until they can hire more employees.

“I told people last year the worry was that we would survive the lack of business,” Gaunce said. “Now the concern is are we going to survive the amount of business we have with the amount of staff we have?”

In Bourbon County, the ‘Now Hiring’ sign on Jerry’s Family Restaurant has been up for months.

The restaurant will be closing the dining room and switching to a curbside-only model starting Friday at 5 p.m. due to staffing challenges.

“We’re hoping that in a couple of weeks we’ll be in a position where we can open back up and have our families and friends in here eating and meeting and greeting like we always did,” said owner Shey Earnest.

According to Earnest, the restaurant is fully staffed at 45 people. They currently have 30 employees.

“We just had kind of the perfect storm of issues with our workforce,” she said.

Earnest listed health concerns and family commitments among the reasons their employee pool started diminishing during the pandemic. However, she said the biggest factor was that many of the people working at Jerry’s Restaurant are students who left or cut back on hours to go back to school.

The switch to curbside only will also serve to give staff a bit of a break.

“I mean they’re just working non-stop. We’ve got to have a little relief until we can get our workforce built up again,” Earnest said. “We could leave our dining room open, but our customers are not going to get the kind of service that they expect and that they deserve. We’re not willing to sacrifice that.”

Owners at both businesses said these were tough decisions, but they know their communities will help see them through to the other side.

Jerry’s Restaurant is accepting applications in person at 4129 Lexington Rd, Paris, KY 40361.

Gaunce’s Deli & Cafe is accepting applications in person at 853 Bypass Rd, Winchester, KY 40391.