Supply chain problems hinder local restaurants

Published 11:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

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Like others across the country, restaurants in the West Point and Chambers County area are dealing with various shortages.

Georgia Norman, co-owner of Pokey’s 8th Street Grill in West Point, said her restaurant has been dealing with food shortages for months.

“We’ve been having to adjust and substitute different products,” she said. “We occasionally have to be out of things.”

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Norman said her brother in law, Ben Hamilton, owns the nearby Johnny’s Pizza. The two restaurants help each other get enough supplies.

“We’re able to kind of play off each other,” Norman said. “When we’re short or our truck can’t bring us something, we’ll borrow it from him and vice versa.”

Pokey’s also copes with food and supply by pre-ordering as much as it can.

Norman said the restaurant has also been dealing with a worker shortage.

“We are short-staffed like pretty much everyone else in our community,” she said. “It’s been worse starting this fall. In the summertime, we always have college students, high school students that are able to work. This fall, we pretty much have college, high school students, and they’re back in school. We’re having a really hard time finding daytime help.”

Until recently, Pokey’s hadn’t received an application in three months, Norman said. She said the restaurant did advertise its open positions during that time. 

Joseph Walker, owner and manager of Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ in Lanett, said his restaurant has mostly been dealing with shortages of supplies such as food containers, plates, cup lids and cups for the last six months.

“I’ve been having to find different suppliers,” Walker said. “Get something from one and get another thing from another. I used to go to one. Now I have to go to two or three.”

Brittany Boatman, manager of Sunny’s Home Cooking in Valley, said her restaurant has been dealing with shortages of food, supplies and workers.

“The good thing is with us ordering from three different suppliers, if one is out [of something], usually the other will have it,” she said. “At least one is out of something every delivery.”

Boatman said shortages of food have been going on for a couple of months. She attributed them to a lack of employees.

“Apparently, there’s about to be a shortage of straws and foam cups,” she said. “That’s what my vendors told me to stock up on.”

Sunny’s Home Cooking has had just enough workers to get by since around the beginning of the pandemic, according to Boatman. If one calls out sick, Boatman said another employee will have to work a lot of overtime hours.

“I lost over half of my staff when the pandemic started,” she said. “We’ve been running full business hours through everything basically with five girls.”

Boatman said her restaurant has tried hiring new workers with little luck.