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Lack of employees closes some restaurant dining areas

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:27 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Many fast-food restaurants throughout Eastern Iowa have “help wanted” signs to get more workers.

This also can have the impact of long lines, and even some stores closing their dining areas to make it “drive-thru only.”

“My daughter will scream if she doesn’t get her ice cream, to put it simply,” said Andy Tielebein of Marion.

Tielebein waited for about 20-minutes on Thursday in the Hiawatha Dairy Queen drive-thru because the dining area was closed because of a lack of employees. The Dairy Queen wasn’t the only ones. The Wendy’s on 42nd Street NE has its dining area closed, the Taco Bell downtown also had its dining area shut down, and the Wendy’s on Collins reduced its dining hours to 5-hours for lunch only.

“Drive-thrus are convenient, but not when you have to wait, obviously,” Tielebein.

“Right now, we are running between six and seven people per shift,” said Kinch Donithan, the owner of the Hiawatha Dairy Queen. “That is just for the drive-thru.”

Kinch said the DQ employed 28 people and needed another 10 at a minimum to operate how he would like, but getting those employees hasn’t been easy, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Kinch said he was paying to post his jobs online.

“We had 23 people who showed interest and only hired 2 of them,” he said.

Donithan said he was paying $12 an hour for a full-time employee and offered incentives for good employees to refer their friends. That was in the neighborhood of the competition. The McDonald’s on Blairs Ferry had a sign in front advertising $13 an hour. While he continued to try and fill the vacant position, he said he was thankful for customers for being patient while waiting in line and being considerate to the employees.

“Until I can open the dining room and give full service to all of our customers, we will still operate as if it was a pandemic,” he said.

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