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Louisville businesses are excited for summer but share a common problem

While pandemic restrictions have eased and customers are returning, one problem remains.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Daniel Passafiume first launched In Season Harvest Kitchen on West Main near Derby last year.

While pandemic restrictions have eased and customers are returning, one problem remains.

“The people we have are great, we are very quick at lunch,” Passafiume said. “But, we are really struggling to attract more people.”

He wants to add breakfast to his schedule, but can’t find additional staff to make the change.

It’s something we’ve been hearing for a while now. But is it better?

Kentuckiana Works said yes. Director of Labor Market Intelligence Sarah Ehresman pointed to two pieces of data that show growth in Louisville’s hospitality workforce.

The U.S. Census Quarterly Labor Force Indicator shows steady growth through the third quarter of 2021 for food services and drinking places in Jefferson County.

For more recent data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a similar trend through March of this year for recreation and hospitality in the Louisville area. But, the numbers are still down about 9% from this time in 2020.

It’s a struggle for existing restaurants and a hurdle for new ones trying to open.

“We expected to open at least a month ago,” Shawn Cantley said of his soon-to-open South Seas restaurant.

He’s been working on the Butchertown store opening since January.

After struggling with orders and deliveries, he hopes to open this Monday.

However, he has problems with the kitchen staff. He is not alone.

“It’s definitely more difficult than the other positions,” Kyle Ferguson told WHAS11 News, standing in the future Railyard Billiards and Sports Club.

Fergeson and his brother Matt plan to open the largest pool hall in Louisville.

Previously, the two large pool halls in the Metro were owned by Diamond Pub and Billiards.

“We actually thought it was going to be our direct competitor at the time,” Matt said.

When they closed earlier this year, the Railyard Billiards and Sports Club found a new home – and a new support system.

Kyle said, “A lot of people reached out and said, anything we can do to help? A lot of times when we post a position, people tag other people, you know?”

Even with this help, it is difficult to fill the kitchen. Matt said they were halfway to full roster at the back. Still, they hope to open on May 20.

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