Local restaurant excited about restrictions lifting but troubled by staffing shortage

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania is lifting its Covid restrictions on Memorial Day, which has many restaurants excited. But their challenges aren’t over yet.

For Sophia’s in Mechanicsburg, the end of restrictions hopefully means filling up more of their tables with customers.

Owner Sophia Nelms says it can’t come soon enough.

“Over a year has been long enough and I believe absolutely they should open tomorrow,” Nelms said.

The restrictions have badly hurt the industry.

“It’s been a really tough year, but we’ve worked really hard as all restaurants have to protect the customer, protect our employees, protect our businesses,” Nelms said.

Now owners and customers alike are excited to see things changing.

Carrie Fay met her friend Julie Abel at Sophia’s on Tuesday night to enjoy dinner and live music there.

“The ability for people to get out and participate in their communities and spend money I think is going to be huge,” Fay said.

“I’m happy to try to get back some normalcy, but I am concerned because so many people are declining to get the vaccine,” Abel said.

Even without the restrictions many restaurants are facing a different challenge.

“Although it will really help our numbers, we aren’t able to accommodate because of our staff,” Nelms said. “We don’t have enough staff.”

The staffing shortage has forced them to cut some evening hours, and even stop their breakfast service altogether.

“We can’t accommodate the people coming in the door. That’s what’s hurting us right now,” Nelms said.

They are hiring for both a cook and a dishwasher right now. Nelms says anyone who sends them a qualified candidate who stays in the position for at least a month can have a free dinner for 2 at Sophia’s.

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