Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Restaurants face staffing shortage, COVID-19 cases lead to closures

Coronavirus

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – As Omicron surges across the state, eateries and local diners are having to shut their doors to deal with staffing shortages caused by the virus.

Keith & Co. Artisan Sandwiches in Jacksonville is one of many restaurants that decided to close this week, citing a lack of available staff and COVID worries as the reason for the shutdown.

“That was a tough decision,” explained Darin Keith, owner. His secondary location, Bennett’s in Sherwood remains open. “We lose the revenue, but at the same time, everyone’s safe and we make sure everyone comes back healthy and good.”

Keith said the decision was made to close for a few days at the start of the week. But on the set reopening day, employees held a team meeting and decided to hold off until Monday for the safety of everyone.

It’s a common issue in the Little Rock metro region, with restaurants closing for a few days, only offering takeout, or canceling shifts to account for a lack of staff.

Michelle Gilbert with the Downtown Little Rock Partnership says restaurants are one of the big draws of Little Rock and are vital to the survival of the city. While most things Downtown are still open and thriving, she adds, “if we’re seeing restaurants that are not doing as well as they normally do, that could have a ripple effect on the neighborhood.”

Gilbert recommends finding ways to support local at every step, saying, “keep supporting your favorite local restaurants and businesses even if that just means you’re getting takeout.”

Most restaurants that had been closed announced the pause online via social media. Keith & Co. plans on re-opening Monday morning, with many other eateries also eyeing next week for an update.

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