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Pair of popular restaurants cut hours of operation to deal with problems from labor shortage

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The Proximo restaurant in downtown Fort Wayne is closed temporarily on Mondays and Tuesdays due to staffing shortages.
The Baker Street Steakhouse on N. Clinton is also cutting back hours of operation because of difficulties in hiring enough workers.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Businesses don't like to have to limit hours of operation, but one group of high-end restaurants in the city is doing just that, to cope with staff shortages.

Baker Street Steakhouse on North Clinton for the time being is now closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Proximo in the heart of downtown is shut down on Mondays and Tuesdays because shortages of people on the payroll aren't letting up.

A message put out on Proximo's Facebook page reads, "Over the last few months our staff has given all and more than we could have asked for...We have made the decision to temporarily close on Mondays and Tuesdays until we are through this current employee shortage." The message goes on to say, "For our staff's well-being, we must give them an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate."

To try and get more workers hired, ownership of Proximo, Baker Street and the Hoppy Gnome on East Berry Street has boosted pay, bumped up what the company pays towards health insurance premiums for workers, is offering sign-on and retention bonuses and discounted or free food on certain work shifts to try and bring forward more candidates for jobs available.

"It just shows that this restaurant is successful enough to be able to do that and willing to do something like that, because there's a good thing going here and I would hate to see it slow down due to not being able to be fully staffed," said bartender Parker Ahee, who hired on at Proximo during the pandemic.

"Initially we were asking our staff to kind of help out, work a little bit more with the thought that this is going to come right back and we're going to continue to hire people, and it just hasn't. And if anything it has gotten harder," said James Khan, who owns Proximo, Baker Street and the Hoppy Gnome.

"We have seen employers raise wages, they are trying to do everything they can to try and bring workers in the doors. I don't know if they're going to run out of options, but they may run out of options at some point because it doesn't seem to be making a significant difference," said Rick Farrant, the communications director for Northeast Indiana Works, a governmental employment agency for this region of the state.

Farrant says finding a remedy for the labor shortage is crucial, because many companies in many different industries need answers for the long-term viability of their operations.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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