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'There's nothing more we can do': Popular St. Louis County restaurant closing after 46 years

For more than 46 years, Balducci's has been serving Italian cuisine in Maryland Heights

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — A staffing shortage is forcing one of the St. Louis area's most well-known restaurants to close its doors for good.

For more than 46 years, Balducci's has been serving Italian cuisine in Maryland Heights.

The restaurant offers sandwiches, deep dish and thin crust pizza along with specialty salads.

The owners of Balducci's announced on social media that they have no choice but to close their family business.

"It's very sad and emotional to let go, but when we can't find enough people to staff the operation, there's nothing more we can do."

It’s a familiar refrain we have heard from a lot of business owners, especially those in the food industry.

“We are proud of what we did," Carol Balducci said Monday. "We are proud that we were able to employ so many people.”

Balducci's is located at 12527 Bennington Place in Maryland Heights. The restaurant shared a heartfelt thank you to loyal patrons for stopping by over the years.

"We can't thank you enough for your incredible support. We can't thank our amazing Staff enough for sticking with us and fighting to the end. We love them and hope you loved them too! God Bless You and your Families and say a prayer for this Great Country." the restaurant shared.

Posted by Balducci's Restaurant on Sunday, October 17, 2021

Like many other restaurant owners, Rick and Carol Balducci would like to be able to employ more people, now. But they can’t find enough employees.

“Every position,” said Rick. “We need managers, we need cooks we need servers. We just cannot find help. We will get applications, and then they won't show up for the interview. But we don't even get that many applications to be honest.”

At Webster University, human resources and management professor Dr. Julie Palmer says food service is one of many industries that is re-adjusting.

“You know people say the financial assistance people were getting has caused us to not want to work, but it's way more complicated than that. Many, many people have spent a lot more time at home and have reevaluated where they want to spend their time, and they're choosing not to work.”

In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson opted out of federal unemployment programs to prompt people to go back to work.

Palmer said, “I don't think it had any lasting effects.”

Comments on Balducci’s Facebook page include, “Have always loved your meals at Balducci's. Your restaurant will be greatly missed,” and “My family and friends and I went all the time as kids. And continued into adulthood.”

Rick said he was doing okay with this decision until he saw those comments.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Rick. “It really hit me that maybe we did a few things right.”

The Balduccis sold their winery in Augusta several months ago, so this development pretty much marks retirement for them.