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Omicron multiplies staffing, supply problems for restaurants

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:30 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Restaurant owners in the Louisville area say the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus is making it more difficult to serve their customers.

“It’s an ongoing, daily, try to figure out what we need to do,” Volare Executive Chef Joshua Moore said. “You have produce, seafood, beef, poultry, dairy. It’s across the board, and it’s something every day. We just roll with the punches and put out the best products and source where we have to and get everything done.”

“It makes it really hard to maintain a routine,” Anoosh Shariat, the owner of Noosh Nosh, said.

Shariat estimates that 80 to 85% of his business has returned following the COVID shutdown, but the omicron variant has him operating with only about eight wait staff members, half of what he needs. He said he is currently losing three to four employees every two weeks due to COVID.

“Let’s say some of them have kids,” he said. “If the school — if somebody gets exposed, they have to stay home and quarantine. So, that means they’re not coming here.”

The same staffing shortages are hitting restaurant suppliers.

“There’s less boats out there fishing, there’s less drivers that drive from the docks to get stuff to the airport,” Moore said. “So we’ve had some issues.”

Those issues have impacted supplies of things like garlic and cilantro, imported beer and wine. All of it brings higher prices cutting into the bottom line.

Still operating at 80% capacity, Volare management is resisting passing those costs onto the customers.

”We’re going to do it as long as we can,” Volare General Manager Jonathan Tarullo said. “Every day is a challenge obviously but it’s just one day at a time, one step forward.”

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