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Southeast Texas restaurants closing following impact of pandemic, inflation and shortage of employees

Worker shortages and product inflation overwhelmed the restaurants that were already struggling to bounce back from the pandemic.

BEAUMONT, Texas — We all know Southeast Texans love their food and their mom and pop shops, but that may not be enough to save many of these local restaurants

Five Southeast Texas restaurants are closing and it really has to do with a triple threat of problems: The pandemic, worker shortages, and inflation.

The restaurants closing are West Texas Style BBQ in Silsbee, Katfish Kitchen in Lumberton, Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream in Beaumont, Orange Leaf in Beaumont, And The Yogurt Spot in Beaumont.

Worker shortages and product inflation overwhelmed the restaurants that were already struggling to bounce back from the pandemic.

"Cost of everything's going up as we know like inventories are short even merchandise this holiday season. It's stuck on the boats. They can't get it here," Lauren Bebeau said.

And all these extra challenges mean serving good food just isn't good enough to stay in business anymore.

"A business owner these days has to play the role of the boss, the accounting, the HR, the marketing, and even like the research and development to bring in new items and stay exciting," Bebeau said.

To keep customers coming back, these restaurants have to compete not only with other eateries but also with new trends and technologies.

"I personally feel that the ones that are adopting to the technology that have the Facebook and the Instagram they're constantly putting what they have to offer out there. That's definitely going to give them an edge,” Bebeau said.

But retaining customers isn't the only challenge restaurants face

"We have been faced with challenges such as employment issues, there's been an employee shortage and that’s nationwide,” Austin Williams said.

Williams says 5Under has had to change the way they operate to get customers and employees to come back.

"Work a little harder at customer retention, do things for the employees. We're doing probably a higher rate per hour than we've ever paid,” Williams said.

He said they've had to increase their pay to get people to even come to interview.

Among all these uncertainties, one thing is for sure. Surviving as a restaurant in this market will require new adaptations.

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