A Florida BBQ restaurant shut down after being left with just 4 employees. 'No one wants to work,' its owner said.

·3 min read

A BBQ restaurant in Winter Park, Florida, shut down after its workforce dwindled to just four employees, its owner said.

Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que, which lists three other Orlando-area restaurants on its website, shut its Winter Park location earlier in September, according to a Facebook post.

"Business has been off considerably, but the hardest part being the inability to find staff to hire," Boo McKinnon, the restaurant's owner, wrote in the post. 

"We closed our Winter Park store with a whopping four employees," McKinnon said in the Facebook post. McKinnon did not say how many people she previously employed in her restaurant.

"Despite paying more than any restaurant I am aware of, no one wants to work," McKinnon said in the post, without saying how much she paid staff. 

In July, Insider's Ben Gilbert reported that the phrase "nobody wants to work anymore" had become a scapegoat for every problem plaguing the American labor market.

When contacted by Insider, McKinnon wouldn't say exactly how much staff were paid, but said hourly employers were paid "in double digits." Winter Park managers were paid at the level of "high end" restaurants or better, she said.

"We had a great 35 year run in Winter Park and are grateful for every one of those years. The labor shortage is very real. And it is brutal," she told Insider, adding that other local restaurants had also cut their hours.

McKinnon said in the Facebook post the restaurant had previously slashed its opening hours to three full days and two half days per week. "It wasn't by design, it was simply due to the fact we have no staff and can't find any," she said.

Bubbalou's said that it would transfer its remaining Winter Park employees to its restaurant in Apopka.

McKinnon appeared to partly blame the government's enhanced unemployment benefits for the restaurant's lack of workers.

"Damn you pandemic and the political machine for making [it] more appealing to not work than to be an active part of the workforce in our country," McKinnon wrote. "It's pathetic. And it has disastrous results."

Florida stopped paying the benefits, including a $300 weekly payment, in late June. Mark Wilson, CEO of Florida's Chamber of Commerce, said that the decision would "help fill thousands of these vacancies and aid in ending the worker shortage throughout the state."

Companies in Florida, and other states that cut benefits early, have said that they're still struggling to find staff months later.

Workers say that it's low pay, bad benefits, and a lack of flexible hours that are making them quit their jobs in droves.

The restaurant industry has been especially hard hit.

The number of people working in restaurants, cafes, and bars across the US fell in August for the first time since April 2020, according to preliminary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was the largest drop in employment across all nonfarm industries, including retail, healthcare, and manufacturing.

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