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Employee shortage negatively impacts local restaurants

In a Facebook post, Dale’s Diner staff confirmed they are shutting down operations due to a lack of employees.
In a Facebook Post Dale's Diner staff confirmed the news that they are shutting down due to a...
In a Facebook Post Dale's Diner staff confirmed the news that they are shutting down due to a lack of employees.(Jack Bassett)
Published: Apr. 3, 2021 at 1:09 AM EDT
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WATERVILLE, Ohio (WTVG) -The doors of Dale’s Diner will close for the last time on Saturday. After nearly a decade in business, the Waterville restaurant’s management is calling it quits.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” said Manager Shawna Harris, “I mean everyone in Waterville and the surrounding area is going to miss this place because this is where people gathered to meet friends and family.”

Staff at Dale’s Diner said the closure doesn’t come from a lack of customers, but from a lack of employees.

“Everything is starting to boom again, people are getting their vaccines, everything is coming back to normal, “said Dale’s Assistant Manager Sarah Pickett. “The kitchen just can’t keep up with the amount of people who are coming in the doors, and it’s sad.”

“I get it, I understand it, it’s easy to want to sit at home… but eventually, life has to move on, we have to get back to work,” said Pickett.

In a Facebook post, Owner Bill Anderson explained he can’t compete with unemployment benefits.

The post said: “Saturday April 3rd, will be the last day of operation for Dale’s Diner in Waterville. Quite simply we have been unable to hire enough cooks to satisfy the demands of our operation. We ARE NOT closing due to lack of business. While we were able to weather the Covid situation, the lack of employable cooks and challenges of competing against unemployment benefits became insurmountable for a small-town diner. We are not alone, the challenges of hiring is a pandemic in the restaurant industry.”

Anderson also left a note to patrons, “To our loyal customers: it has been Liz’s, mine and our entire staff’s great honor and privilege to have served you and gotten to know so many of you as friends over the past decade. It is with an extremely heavy heart that we make this decision but see no other way at this time. When the employment landscape changes, Dale’s Diner will be back.”

Dale’s Diner is not the only restaurant left short-staffed. Tom Kuron, owner of Chowders N’ Moor said a lack of staff is restricting the revenue that his restaurant could be earning.

“We’re closed on Sundays because we don’t have enough staff,” said Kuron. “We were a 7 day a week operation, and now we lost one day of business because we don’t have enough staff.”

Ohio’s Restaurant Association President John Barker told 13abc: “The problem we’re having right now is restaurants actually need some of their staff to come back, and much of the staff, they’ve been furloughed for months or a year, they’ve moved onto something else.”

While Barker did not comment specifically about restaurant staff collecting unemployment and not returning to work, Barker said it’s now a difficult situation they have to learn to adapt to In order to stay in business.

“Well you know it’s a double-edged sword,” said Kuron. “I mean us small businesses we need people, but people can stay home and make more money.. you know what do you do….? I’m not them so I can’t tell people what to do, but I’m hoping one day we get back to normal.”

Staff with Dale’s Diner said they have hopes to possibly one day reopen if they can find the help necessary to run their business.

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