MATLACHA, Fla. — A popular Matlacha restaurant is temporarily closing its doors on Sundays.
The Blue Dog Bar & Grill made the decision after they couldn’t find workers. But their problem might be shared by others who are going through similar changes.
For six and a half years, Jesse Tincher and John Lynch have been co-owners of the restaurant. After a year like 2020 that brought with it a pandemic, this year the restaurant has seen a surge in clientele.
“It’s been a really pleasant surprise," says Lynch. "We didn’t expect it to be this big of a year and it turned into a huge year for us.”
It’s been so busy, in fact, that for the 56 employees on-staff the workload has been tiring.
"I was back in the kitchen, helping out in the kitchen, and we were slammed," says Tincher. "Tickets all across the board. As I’m asking for stuff, I looked over at him and he just had this look in his eyes and he just tells me, ‘Man, I’m tired. I’m tired.’ So I was like, ‘Alright- I gotcha.’ That’s when I bought it up with him (John) we need to do something or, literally, they’re going to drop off- they’re going to fall off.”
That’s when they made the decision to temporarily close the restaurant’s doors on Sundays. A difficult decision from a business standpoint, but an easy one for its staff. It’s also pointed out a larger issue.
“Normally we get applicants coming in and I can open up a file and say, ‘Okay- let’s call up this person or this person to give our people a break and hire new staff.' There’s no applicants this year," said Lynch. "That file is empty, like, there is nobody coming through the doors right now.”
Blue Dog aren’t the only ones feeling the impact. Staff shortage is being felt from the top down in food service.
“It’s not exclusive just to the restaurants by themselves, it’s all across the board,” says Tincher.
“It is a nationwide issue," said Lynch. "Primarily, for the restaurant business, people are not coming in. We’re just not getting the staffing that used to be pretty automatic so we’ve had to adjust.”
While that adjustment means cutting work hours, it also means new opportunities.
Lynch says, "There’s a learning curve to it and having to close on Sundays is new to us. But, hey, we’re going to embrace it and go with it for a while until we get staff back up and ready to roll.”
And it all boils down to one concept that these staffers hold close to the chest.
“We’re just one big family and we want to take care of our family," said Tincher. "That’s what families do- take care of each other and look out for each other. We do within the four walls but also outside of the four walls; we take care of each other.”
Blue Dog Bar & Grill are currently hiring right now. Managers ask that those interested in applying can pick up an application at the restaurant. You can find more information by checking out their website. They are also on Facebook.