ST. LOUIS — The owner of a St. Louis landmark says he's considering cutting hours and closing every Monday because he can't find workers.
“It’s a hard business and it’s not for everybody,” said Crown Candy owner Andy Karandzieff.
Since the start of the pandemic Karandzieff has had to cut hours and increase employee pay, but he’s still running into the same problem.
“We’re all struggling to get people to come to work,” said Karandzieff.
Crown Candy currently has 20 employees, 4 of which are part-time and only work weekends, and that’s at least 10 short of the number typically needed as they move into candy-making season.
“We’re looking for some part-time people to step in and maybe just fill a couple of days here and there, or maybe one full-time person,” said Karandzieff. “Right now, we just haven’t had any luck finding those people.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this is a problem across St. Louis.
In 2019, more than 160,000 people worked in the hospitality industry locally, but that number has dropped to roughly 143,000 today.
"We're fortunate,” said Karandzieff. “I've got a great core. I've got a lot of people who have been with me a long time, so from that standpoint we're good. I think people are just tired of the long hours. COVID has given people a new perspective on how they live their lives."
While the job numbers continue to slowly rebound to pre-pandemic levels Karandzieff said he’s going to keep serving up your favorite sweet treats.
“We’re not going anywhere,” said Karandzieff. “We’ll be here. It’s just that things are different, but guess what, things are different all over.”
It’s still not clear exactly when Crown Candy will start closing on Monday.
Karandzieff says that’s because it depends a lot on when they can start shipping chocolate.
Crown Candy will be closed on Tuesday, Sept. 7 so his employee can have a paid mental health day.