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Virginia Beach steakhouse temporarily closes due to staffing shortages; other restaurants across city cut hours

Summer tourism is in full force, but staffing shortages still plague many Virginia Beach restaurant owners.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Summer tourism is in full force, but staffing shortages still plague many Virginia Beach restaurant owners.

The lights are off and the door is locked at Brass Bell Steakhouse in Virginia Beach. A sign posted out front states the restaurant will stay closed for about two months.

The steakhouse’s website states it will open again in September because that "is when unemployment ends and there will be employees to hire."

“So many businesses are hanging by a thread,” owner Lynda Gilpin said in a statement.

Virginia Beach Restaurant Association Director Stacey Shiflet said many businesses across the city are facing tough choices.

“I would say everyone is operating maybe at about 50 percent of the staff that they should have,” Shiflet said.

Signs posted inside the Lucky Oyster make sure customers know it has fewer members to lean on.

It says: "Like most restaurants we are experiencing a severe shortage of staff due to COVID and various government induced factors. Please allow us extra time to prepare your meals."

“It’s on every single table, it’s on the front door, it’s in the restrooms, it’s on every side area of the restaurant,” said Lucky Oyster general manager Chery Kantirakis.

Kantirakis said the restaurant also cut hours and limited take-out.

“It’s going to take a little bit of extra time to prepare your food to give it the quality that we are used to, and we want you always to be accustomed to,” Kantirakis said.

Over at the Oceanfront, Tautog’s owner Bill Gambrell said he decided to close Monday through Wednesday so staff can rest.

“So, we are not going to burn anybody out and make sure we are just going to keep moving forward,” Gambrell said.

He says with no applicants lined up, his team must ride out the summer.

“I don’t think there is a whole lot we can do about it, and I am trying to avoid the stress that comes with it,” Gambrell said.

Kantirakis said all restaurant owners have the same goals in mind when adding restrictions.

“Is good customer service, great food, good dining experience and your staff wanting to stay on and keep working,” Kantirakis said.

Shiflet hopes businesses can get through the holiday weekend.

“This weekend could be very telling for some of our other restaurants,” Shiflet said. “But right now, they are sticking it out and just making adjustments to their shifts and their schedules, to accommodate what they can do.”

The owners of Brass Bell also posted on their signs and website that the rising cost of goods and product availability is another reason they chose to close for now.

Shiflet said the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association held a joint job fair at Tidewater Community College Wednesday and no applicants walked through the door. The organization keeps openings in the city updated on its website.