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Shelby County businesses feel pinch of pandemic, forced to close doors

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:29 PM CDT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Some popular restaurants in Shelby County are closing as labor shortages continue to pinch the industry.

The National Restaurant Association estimated as of December 1, 2020 more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments either closed temporarily or for good because of the pandemic.

Nearly a year later, more are continuing to shut down.

Bywater Oyster Bar & Grill in Helena announced its closure on Facebook in mid-August saying in a post “Under the current circumstances we just can’t provide the experience to our guests deserve.”

The owner of Chubbfathers announced the closure of his Chelsea location this week.

“I want to say a big thank you to the community of Chelsea for their support,” said William Cholewinski, Owner, “Our decision to close was not because of finances by any stretch of the imagination. We just got down to the point where we had 4 people on staff.”

Cholewinski says his staff numbers decreased after his teenage hires returned to the classroom, but overall he says fewer applications were coming in.

“The latest unemployment numbers for Alabama are what, 3.2 percent? So, people are working and the only thing I can think of is that people blessed themselves and spent some time in a mirror and those people who were working in the restaurant or hospitality jobs have moved on to bigger, better things. And if that’s the case - Glory be to God.”

Cholewinski says he’s still hiring to meet customer demand at his Alabaster location, which he’s hoping to expand in the next year. The company has also launched a food truck and is set to work concession stands for the upcoming Alabama football season.

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