NORFOLK, Va. — Little Dog Diner in the Ghent section of Norfolk is giving their staff a much-needed break. Kitchen renovations are underway in the meantime.
A “now hiring” sign for experienced breakfast cooks hangs outside. And so does a sign pledging to return.
"We look forward to serving you again on September 1, 2021," according to an automated message when you call the diner.
"I think folks are really struggling with trying to stay open a full seven days a week. Most of them are certainly closing two days a week and then some have decided to close, renovate and reopen later," said Eric Terry, president of Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association. “Until the labor market gets a little better, it’s just difficult to hit the revenue numbers you need and to be able to service customers."
In a Facebook post, Virginia Beach restaurant When in Rome Ristorante says lack of staff shut their doors as well. But they’re going to make the most of it.
“We are currently closed for renovations but plan on reopening September 2," said the restaurant's voicemail message. They plan for a grand reopening with a newly remodeled restaurant.
“What is the state of the hospitality industry in Virginia right now?," 13News Now asked Terry. “It’s still a real struggle for the industry," he said. "I do think we have lost a lot of people who worked in the industry before who may not come back. I think it’s going to be quite some time before we see a full recovery."
Terry said best estimates for the hotel industry to fully bounce back would be in 2023. He mentioned the restaurant industry could potentially recover quicker if the workforce returns soon.
Terry anticipates the end of pandemic-era unemployment benefits to relieve some of the pandemic-era labor shortages. The Brass Bell Steakhouse and Bar in the Bayside area of Virginia Beach thinks so too, which is why they say they’re closed now but reopening in September.
Virginia will cut off pandemic unemployment benefits September 4.
Industry experts believe rising cost in food supply is also why some restaurants are temporarily closing.