Staffing shortages from COVID-19 case spike force restaurants to close their doors

ATLANTA — As COVID-19 cases spike across Georgia, many metro Atlanta restaurants are shutting down, but not because of mandates. They say too many of their employees are testing positive.

Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke with several restaurant and business owners and it seems like most, if not all, of them are making preparations for an outbreak.

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It isn’t often that restaurants like The Third Door Cocktail Bar in Marietta are empty.

“We’re really about building community and sharing good times,” owner Lara Ferreira said.

Ferreira says that several of her employees tested positive for COVID-19 after Christmas, which has forced her to close the business all week.

“This is a good time for us all to no gather in intimate spaces and to give each other some space and give ourselves time to make sure that we’re healthy and take care of our families,” she said.

Closures at The Third Door and other restaurants in a similar situation are hitting an industry plagued by the pandemic at a time when owners are hoping for strong sales to finish out the year.

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Anderby Brewing in Peachtree Corners has not yet had to close down. With a rash of COVID-19 cases in the community, owner Preston Smelt says the beginning of the new year may be a tough one.

“All of our January bookings pretty much canceled within the last three days,” Smelt told Johnson.

Smelt says the outdoor patio at his restaurant has kept people coming in during the pandemic, but concern for the virus has kept people from hosting big events.

He also says that with more people working from home, the omicron surge could be a big concern.

“All the little restaurants around, they all existed expecting to have either a happy hour or lunchtime crowd. It’s not there,” Smelt said.

While he’s grateful he hasn’t had major issues with staffing, he has a plan in case he does in the near future.

“We nip it in the bud. Cycle our everybody who’s exposed. My wife and I will go back to picking up shifts if we have to,” Smelt said.

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Most of the owners Johnson talked to say that their customers are pretty understanding.

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