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Omicron surge leads some restaurants to close during the holiday season

With more people in town this holiday, businesses look forward to the extra income. However, positive tests among employees are changing their plans.

AUSTIN, Texas — Three years ago, Eric Silverstein opened up Bar Peached restaurant. When he opened, little did he know COVID-19 would come and create some challenges. 

"We closed on Tuesday of this week because we just didn't have the staff to be able to run," said Silverstein. "I came back in town personally yesterday and I went from the airport into work so that we could keep our doors open yesterday. We are running a skeleton crew."

With 10 staff members out sick and the holidays in full swing, Silverstein said it's more stressful.

"I think it's an added stress," said Silverstein. "There's no doubt about it. I mean, COVID has hit our industry one of the hardest."

KOME Sushi Kitchen Director of Operations Elizabeth Hyman said their restaurant was in a similar bind. They're down 50 employees since the pandemic started. They're so short-staffed, two positive COVID-19 cases forced them to close their doors recently.

RELATED: Franklin Barbecue, Komé: Sushi Kitchen temporarily close after employees test positive for COVID-19

"Closing down for the weekend before Christmas and the first week of everyone's holiday break, that's a huge financial hit to us," said Hyman. "A lot of product going to waste as well. All of our product is fresh, so we had to throw so much way, so much produce away."

Despite a week of heavy losses, things are starting to pick up again.

"We are staffing to the max but, again, with a small staff, that means we can only have so many people at so many stations to go as fast as we can," added Hyman.

They're preparing for the busy holiday weekend, as is Silverstein. 

"We survived last night," said Silverstein. "I think, you know, we have to push a little bit harder as a team, but I think we'll survive."

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