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As holidays begin, restaurants adapt to staffing, supply shortages

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Dottie Spears, owner of Trackside Restaurant in Paris, says she had to put a “Now Hiring” banner outside her restaurant.

PARIS, Ky. (WTVQ) – Amid staffing and supply shortages, some restaurants are concerned about this holiday season.

Trackside Restaurant has been a Paris lunch and dinner hot spot since 2018, but owner Dottie Spears says she’s at minimum staff, employing about 40 people. She says about 50 to 60 employees would better accommodate her restaurant.

“I would consider we are at minimum. At minimum,” said Spears.

According to Woodford County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Emily Downey, the hospitality industry has taken a hit.

“Our hospitality industry is hurting really bad. There’s a lot of positions out there and people are having to even change menus, they’re having to change schedules and hours of operation to be able to fill those positions,” said Downey.

Spears says she put a “Now Hiring” sign out front of her restaurant. While the banner did bring in three candidates, she doesn’t expect a lot of applications around the holidays.

“I’m not sure how the economics will improve our situation, especially through the holidays. I don’t anticipate a lot of people will come in to apply,” said Spears.

To add to staffing issues, Spears says many of her staff are either related to each other or close friends, making it difficult if one of her staff is exposed to COVID-19.

“Almost everyone employed here touches three people. I mean, immediate family…our employee base has to have enough give-and-take that I can still run the restaurant. If I have four employees, out of 40, that are out for 20 days quarantined, I have a problem,” said Spears.

Like many restaurants, Spears says Trackside, which offers ready-made holiday dinners, is experiencing supply shortages in to-go packaging, as well as increased food prices, causing her to get creative with the restaurant’s menu.

“Ever gone to grandma’s house, you know what we’re having? We’re having what’s on sale. Sometimes if we find a price point that’s well within our structure and we try to make it Kentucky style,” said Spears.

Spears says Trackside is planning a New Year’s Eve party. She says even though her restaurant is understaffed, she is confident the restaurant will be able to handle the challenge.

“As long as everybody’s vaccinated, or whatever we have to do to get it right, I think we’ll be able to do New Year’s Eve very well,” said Spears.





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