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On eve of return to normalcy, Louisville area businesses still struggling to find workers

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:37 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 12:26 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky will be freed of all COVID mandates on June 11. Restaurants and businesses will be able to have a full capacity crowd and people will no longer need to wear masks.

Unfortunately, local businesses are having a difficult time finding workers.

“This is the Argentina burger we got going right now,” Chef Michael Strickland said as he worked to serve customers at Mussel & Burger Bar in Jeffersontown on Thursday.

Strickland said he flips burgers for 100 hours a week and hasn’t taken a day off in a month. He said it isn’t just booming business that is causing his long hours, it is the lack of a full staff.

“We’ve been plugging away,” Strickland said. “Hopefully, [we can] get to full staff so we can get our full occupancy back up.”

When restrictions shut down Mussel & Burger Bar, it closed down the kitchen and the cash flow for employees stopped.

“It’s tough because we want to be here to serve the community,” Strickland said. “We have customers come to the door and we have to quote time at an hour, hour and a half. We’ve been so busy, [but] we don’t have the staff to handle it. We’re losing our regular customers and they’re going somewhere else.”

While Mussel & Burger Bar seeks to employ more people, Strickland said they’ll continue to put food on the table for people who want to chow down.

Meanwhile, customers like Joel Golsteyn look forward to going into businesses without worry.

“I know there’s people still concerned about the virus, I understand that,” Golstyen said. “It’s nice for people to have that freedom and a little bit of relaxation. There’s not any tension or anxiety with people.”

The plan for the Golsteyn family Thursday evening was to walk up and down Whisky Row and Bardstown Road and give back to the service community.

“We’ve hit a couple places and they’ve been so nice to us, socializing and talking,” Golsteyn said. “We want to stay here and patronize them. We know they’ve gone through hardships and we want to stay and spend our money here.”

GOP leaders are calling for Gov. Andy Beshear to reevaluate unemployment insurance and end the supplemental $300 weekly checks. They said staffing issues are due to the government paying people who can work, but won’t, taking away from deserving people getting their checks. Both chambers have sent letters to Beshear asking to end the supplemental UI program, including Greater Louisville Inc.

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