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Business Picking Up Again But Local Restaurants Still Struggling To Hire

Unemployment numbers are improving in Vanderburgh County, but there are still so many job openings and one Evansville restaurant worries people just don't want to do physical work anymore.

Posted: Jun 10, 2021 12:54 AM
Updated: Jun 10, 2021 8:19 AM

You've seen the signs everywhere. Things are opening up and businesses are hiring.

That also goes for Siciliano's, the little sub shop that could.

"We are looking for additional hands to help us," said co-owner Danielle Hodge. "We're doing events and things that I can't even believe to think that people are asking us to do. Ten months ago that wasn't even a possibility."

The mom-and-pop shop in Evansville's west side nearly went under during the pandemic, but just before the new year, they tried something new.

"It was amazing, we were in here banging out like 100 charcuterie boards," co-owner David Hodge said. "It just kind of snowballed from there...and here we are."

The community rallied together, bringing them back from the brink. Now business is thriving and they're so busy, they're looking to hire some help.

"Our kids are growing up and they're growing up so fast so we need someone to take care of our baby here so we can continue on with the other projects that we're working on," Danielle said. "Maybe some extra people that want the opportunity to take the charcuterie wagon out to events."

They're not the only ones. Just across the street, Gerst Haus is among many others in desperate need of workers.

Their Facebook page updated Tuesday with a "now hiring" post stressing the restaurant's dire straights. If they can't get more hands in the kitchen by the end of the week, they'll be closed on Mondays until further notice.

The kitchen manager at Gerst Haus said his team is working so many overtime hours, they're struggling to keep up with demand.

Staff at Smitty's said they're facing the same struggle.

Local businesses are the heart and soul of the community and with so many in the same boat, Siciliano's knows they need to find ways to stand out.

"We're trying to offer competitive pay, we offer a free meal a day when you work with us, flexible schedule," Danielle said.

Because though they're among the lucky ones, making it through one of the hardest years, they're still facing the same challenge.

"Just making sure that we have a team that everybody's working together cohesively towards one common goal," Danielle said. "Which is keeping this place open as long as possible."

As a whole, unemployment numbers are improving in Vanderburgh County. The latest report as of April puts it at 4.4%, down slightly from 4.8% in March, but clearly, there are still so many job openings and Gerst Haus' kitchen manager worries people just don't want to do physical work anymore.

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