Mr. B’s closes on Tuesdays due to short staff; KY restaurants lose 24,000 workers since start of pandemic

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Mr. B’s off of Scottsville Road is known around Bowling Green for their great pizza and tender wings. Now, though, with so few workers, the restaurant has to close its doors on Tuesdays.

Restaurant manager Emily Stone said, “I’ve worked here for almost 10 years, and it’s never been anything like this before.”

Stone said they need to hire anywhere from 15 to 20 kitchen workers and delivery drivers.

“We’ve just had a really hard time hiring people, signing applicants, or having people actually show up,” said Stone.

She said when people finally do accept the job, they only work for a handful of days and then turn in their resignations.

“We’ve gone out to high schools, passed out applications, we’ve called all the guidance counselor officers seeing if anybody needs help,” said Stone. “We’ve posted on Indeed, social media, pretty much anything you can do to get people in the doors, and we just can’t find anybody.”

Neither Mr. B’s nor Southcentral Kentucky are alone in this struggle. Restaurant.org shows data from this Monday, saying 44 states saw restaurant employment levels drop from August to September. 

Further data from the website shows that Kentucky lost almost 24,000 restaurant workers from February 2020 – September 2021.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch said Bowling Green has been the fastest growing city in Kentucky since 2011, however the labor force has recently dropped by 8,000 workers.

“Our open positions have remained about the same, so the gap between what employers need and what’s available in the work force is real,” said Bunch.

Fortunately, Bunch says he’s seen a small, but still present, trend of workers rejoining the labor force. Only time will tell if this trend continues.