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Local Wichita businesses struggle to stay open

Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 10:08 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The restaurant business has continued to struggle almost a year and a half since the pandemic’s start.

Other than an unreliable supply chain, the lack of people willing to work in the food industry right now is causing many restaurants to think about their futures. Nancy Parish owns Nancy’s A-Maize-N Sandwiches and has been in business since 2005.

Parish is now closing her doors to focus only on catering.

Nancy Parish, the owner of A-Maize-n Sandwiches, said, “It should be a stepping stone to better things... you start here, and you work your way up. A lot of the people working here in the past, they worked here while they were going to school.”

Parish said she paid her employees a fair wage and was never intended to support a family. But she has other expenses that keep her from paying higher salaries and staying in business.

“I’ve got the loan payment in the building, the insurances, the work comp insurances, the utilities like everybody else. But the food cost is unbelievable right now. I’m not going to be able to afford to serve you,” said Parish.

Bogey’s in Hutchinson is one of those restaurants having to adjust its hours. Owner Tyler Davis announced in July that the restaurant would be closed every Wednesday because they couldn’t find adequate staffing and he doesn’t know if they’ll ever be able to go back to a full schedule.

Davis said, “We’re just losing staff more than we every have before, and then at the same time, it’s hard to hire people. But we’ve never had to hire people like this. I think that’s what every little independent restaurant has had to do, and we’ve had to raise prices to do it, but that’s what we’re doing.”

But Meddy’s has just started offering wages as much as 20 to 25 dollars an hour. Owner Alex Harb said he’s received 150 applications in 12 hours.

“Raising the wages to where we raised them, totally the morale within our team shot through the roof. You’re talking about day and night productivity. It seems like all of a sudden. Everybody wanted to be there versus last week. Nobody wanted to be there,” stated Harb.

Harb’s approach to the changing food scene is to make the industry as competitive as other occupational fields and adjust food prices as necessary.

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