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Pandemic problems continue for restaurant owners

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 18:02:14-04

CYNTHIANA, Ky. (LEX 18) — Restaurant owners have pivoted and adjusted throughout the pandemic. From dining room shutdowns to capacity limits, and now staffing shortages.

"I've been joking this is Burley 46.3. You know, all of these updates that we're making," said Karey Riddell, owner of The Burley Market and Cafe in Cynthiana.

Riddell's restaurant has not only survived, she says the business has thrived when you look at the books."We had the two biggest sales months we've ever had in May and June," said Riddell.Struggles to fully staff have persisted through the summer, which is affecting the weekly schedule at both the market and Leono's Restaurant.

"Working lots of hours and tapping into the strength and willingness of my long-term employees to work even harder than they had," said Maribeth Jameson, owner of Leono's."The profit margin gets slimmer and slimmer the more that you have people work overtime. And they get tired, and then they leave, because they feel overworked," said Riddell.

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Riddell is currently hiring for many positions.

"Prep cooks. Line cooks. And starting in August, I will have full-time openings as well for baristas and for servers," said Riddell. "It's been a complete disappointment in that our challenges haven't been the pandemic as far as sickness, it's just been a sluggish economy coming back with labor shortages, supply and inflation."

There's also the cost of doing business. Prices for certain supplies are rising which is affecting what may be on the menu at your favorite cafe.

"Some of them are very popular items such as the Reuben, our roast beef," said Riddell.

When we took a closer look at the issue, we found it's a squeeze being felt across the country.

According to Business Insider, the ransomware attack on JBS led to meat prices surging.

The article reports that the ongoing labor shortage is hampering production and transportation. Mother Nature has also had an impact. A drought in South American countries has driven up the cost of corn, coffee and soybeans.

The Business Insider also says that consumer prices have hit a 13-year high.