Wallingford Restaurant Plans to Close This Weekend If It Can't Fill Jobs

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Tap & Vine in Wallingford is planning to close Sunday if the restaurant cannot find enough help to fill two positions it needs to staff before then.

The restaurant posted on Facebook that it has been hit hard by the labor shortage.

"The community has been great," Hector Samuel, the owner of Tap & Vine, said. "Everybody has been doing everything they can to help us but there just aren’t people out there. People aren’t looking for work.

For the last 18 months, which is when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the restaurant has been short a cook or two. Now, they said, they have only one cook and one person can't prepare enough food fast enough to satisfy anyone’s standards.

“At any given time we need four cooks on staff. We’ve had either two or three, and as of this weekend we’ll go down to one and there’s just no way to survive with one cook,” Samuel said.

The restaurant needs to hire a chef and a line cook within a week and will try to fill those jobs but said it can take months to fill one position amid current labor challenges.

“It would break my heart to close, but I can’t, I won’t sacrifice the quality that we’ve been, that our customers have become, accustomed to just to keep the doors open. That’s too stressful for me,“  Samuel said.

“We will do everything in our power to make it happen, but in the meantime, we are, unfortunately, preparing to close Tap & Vine. Without success in our job search, our last day of business will be Sunday, November 14th.” a Facebook post from the restaurant says.

Tap & Vine has been open for more than five years.

Samuel said he had one great candidate recently, but the applicant called the morning of his interview and said he tested positive for COVID.

“With luck, we’ll continue to be here. But reality is stacked against us,” the post goes on to say.

Scott Dolch, president and CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said customer demand is up, but restaurants are having a difficult time because of a shortage of workers and also supply chain issues and costs.

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