Peoria restaurant owner faces staffing shortages and rising costs

Peoria restaurant owner faces staffing shortages and rising costs

Finding adequate staffing has been a struggle for Dan Kouri, co-owner of Lariat Steakhouse, Kouri’s Grill & Bar and a Sonic Restaurant. He said Lariat is operating with 70% of the staff it needs.

“It’s really what everyone has been saying, that the job market is extremely tight in the Peoria market,”[ads1]; said Kouri, who is also president of the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association.

Staff shortages have forced some local restaurants to cut back on hours and days of operation. Sid Ruckriegel, an entrepreneur and at-large member of the Peoria City Council, said it can work well for businesses that want to maximize service with a limited number of employees.

More:Manufacturing and restaurant industries are “trying to think creatively” about employment issues in Illinois

DAVID ZALAZNIK/JOURNAL STAR Lariat Steakhouse co-owner Dan Kouri.

But Kouri disagrees with this approach. Every day a business is closed, he said, owners lose money that could be used to pay rent, taxes and other recurring costs.

“All those things keep coming and there’s no reprieve from that,” Kouri said. “So it’s a snowball effect, and sooner or later these places are not going to survive.”

At Lariat Steakhouse, Kouri recounted one night when a customer was shocked by the price of alcoholic beverages at the restaurant. Although he said the customer was understanding when he explained the rising operating costs, Kouri said many customers are surprised to learn how drastically inflation affects restaurants.

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