From scouring for lids and to-go containers to struggling to offer customers enough chicken day-to-day, those at local restaurants are trying to make do with not only staff shortages, but product shortages.
At BOXCARS Pub & Grub, 108 Allen St., Clinton, it’s been difficult to obtain chicken wings, corn nuggets and onion rings and, at times, certain bottles of beer and to-go boxes, according to owner Tim Pogorelski.
“We’ve stockpiled some to-go boxes. We take what we can get,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Pogorelski said he recently traveled in the South where it was more dire. While dining in Tennessee, a restaurant owner started out by saying, “I’m going to tell you what we don’t have.”
Back at home, some of his distributors are starting to tell him the same thing.
Fortunately, Pogorelski said he’s had good luck keeping employees and understanding customers.
“We have an extraordinary group of employees,” Pogorelski said.
At Culver’s of Beloit, 2676 Cranston Road, co-owner Jim Agate along with First Assistant Josh Lock have been working in the kitchen to keep up with the worker shortage as the business needs at least 25 to 30 additional employees.
Meanwhile, the remaining employees are struggling to find lids, cups and paper products. Sometimes they will have cups and lids in different sizes, but not matching ones.
“We get creative. My dad (co-owner Bill Lock) ran to Costco to pair a cup and lid. You have to be ready for a challenge,” Josh Lock said.
Agate said the dining room now closes at 4 p.m. while it used to be open until 10 p.m. Customers can use the drive through after 4 p.m.
Keeping the business going is the restaurant’s loyal senior force, including workers such as 23-year employee Sally Rankins, who started working at Beloit Culver’s on the first day of operation, as did Josh Lock.
“I don’t always come to work because of my job. I come to see my people,” Rankins said.
Guy Bucciferro, owner of the McDonald’s restaurants in Beloit on State Street, Madison Road and Milwaukee Road as well as establishments in South Beloit and Rockton, said McDonald’s has fared well as it has a tight supply chain on a global and national level, although distribution still pose challenges.
Bucciferro said no McDonald’s in the Beloit area has permanently run out of chicken nuggets, but there have been menu items that were delayed for a few hours. One recent lunch time, McDonald’s was out of the McChicken sandwich and it’s been out of Powerade for several weeks due to a lacking ingredient.
Klaus Nitsch, vice president of Restaurant Operations at Geronimo Hospitality Group, said there have been supply chain issues likely related to labor shortages in other markets since mid-September.
“Like many others in our industry, we’re seeing some distributors unable to fulfill orders; half the food in an order could be out of stock at any given time and disposable restaurant supplies like to-go containers and cocktail napkins may be in-stock one week and not the next. Despite these challenges, we’re working hard to make sure our restaurants have the food and supplies they need to create positive experiences for our guests,” Nitsch said.