LEXINGTON, N.C. — The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on one Lexington business. The Blazin' BBQ and Kickin' Chickin' restaurant closed after four months. The restaurant's management said the difficult decision was made because they couldn't find enough employees.
The Lexington community was excited to see the restaurant open in June. Last week, around 40 workers were stunned by a text message from management that said the restaurant had closed and they were out of jobs.
"I want to start by saying how much we appreciate you. Unfortunately, you know that business has not been good for the past several weeks. We have tried to make it work but we cannot make it any longer. Effective today we are closed. Your checks for the next two weeks will continue as normal" the text message said. "We feel blessed that you were part of this journey and we are sad that it has come to an end. Please keep in touch with us! Much love, Jason and Stacey"
"We couldn't keep up with demand out of the kitchen. We employed 42 when we first opened but only eight of those were kitchen staff and they worked tirelessly until they just had enough of no help," said owner Jason Rogers in a text message to WFMY.
He said with demand high on food delivery apps and dine-in customers waiting too long for tables, he just couldn't keep up without additional staff.
"I had no idea four months ago people wouldn't work because they could make more money at home, so you can't blame them," Rogers said.
The workers at the restaurant said they were blindsided by the development.
"I have worked here for about a month and a half it was a really good place while it lasted and I worked with a great group of people," Alana Holshouser said.
Holshouser worked in the kitchen and said she never expected to learn she was out of a job through a text message.
"It really destroyed a lot of us when we got a text message on Thursday, October 1, at 8 p.m. that night telling us that it was our last night working and they wouldn't be open anymore. I actually still have stuff in the locker room I haven't gotten out yet," Holshouser said.
Holshouser also said she and her former co-workers are looking for new jobs, but it's tough to find work.
"It's really hard to find a place right now. Not many people are opening, not many people are hiring," she said.
The restaurant's owner said they tried to make it work, but the business was just unsustainable without the adequate workforce.