Restaurant industry struggles to recover from pandemic with supply chain shortages, labor challenges

PDK Southern Kitchen.jpeg
Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 20:56:36-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The restaurant industry is still facing an uphill battle after the pandemic — from supply chain shortages, rising shipping costs and a lack of good workers.

Business owners say they're worried about the future.

Peter Demos spent most of his life in the restaurant industry. He is a fourth-generation restaurant owner owning Demos' Restaurant and PDK Southern Kitchen in Bellevue and Mount Juliet.

But he'll be the first to admit a business is not always easy, especially coming out of a pandemic.

"Restaurants with COVID, first of all, you lost a lot of sales. You lost a lot of that. And then once that sort of the sales started to come back is when the labor market disappeared, combined with supply chain shortages."

It was one challenge after another.

"I did not expect it to happen all the way through 2022," said Demos. "And we did a lot of things to anticipate even with supply chain because the supply chain problem was a labor problem, too."

In a recent survey, the National Restaurant Association the industry lost nearly 450,000 restaurant jobs between November 2020 and January 2021.

Now many say food and labor costs are a significant challenge while half of the 3,000 business owners surveyed expect to make less profit in 2023. Restaurants don’t have enough employees to support existing demand and currently have difficult-to-fill job openings.

Demos said he needs workers in all five of his locations.

"Right now, I'm looking at hiring about 50. Managers is what we're looking at right now. And then as far as hourly employees, we're looking at about 50 hourly employees that we're short right now."

He does believe there are solutions to the problem like expanding jail worker release programs, homeschool and co-op programs and working with immigrant communities.

Despite these difficult times, Demos says he's staying optimistic.

"No matter what, you know, whether or not this business fails, or this business succeeds, I know God's around it. God's managing it, and he has a better plan for me if it doesn't work."

Demos is ready to open another PDK Southern Kitchen on Charlotte Pike in Nashville.

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