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Cafe owner forced to close cafe on weekends after tireless search for chef


A New South Wales cafe owner has shared a distressing letter on social media after being forced to close his doors at the weekend.

Wollongong’s Stokes Lane Cafe was looking for a new head chef for the weekend, but after failing to respond to their job adverts, the owner made the tough call.

Owner Sam Dodd said in a heartfelt Facebook post that the cafe will only be open Monday through Friday for the foreseeable future.

It comes as hospitality centers across the country are taking drastic measures to fill vacancies left by the uncertainty of the pandemic and border closures that have blocked foreign workers.

The 36-year-old father-of-two shared the news with his loyal customers, saying in a message “we were hoping I wouldn’t have to write”.

“This is a message we hoped I wouldn’t have to write, but after weeks of a relentless recruitment campaign we still haven’t found a cafe chef who can live up to the standard of Stokes you’ve come to know and love,” Mr Dodd. said.

Camera iconA Stokes Lane cafe has become the latest victim of the hospitality industry’s staff shortage. Facebook credit: NCA NewsWire

“Our unsuccessful search has left us with no choice but to unfortunately close our doors for service over the weekend.”

Mr Dodd assured customers that he had been looking after staff over the weekend to find new work opportunities and that no one had lost their jobs as a result.

He thanked his customers for their continued support and asked for their patience until the business gets back on its feet.

“We hope you can understand and be patient with us as we try to get back to normal, your loyalty and support has turned Stokes into the thriving business we know today, please bear with us,” he said.

Stokes Lane Cafe - I Want You.  Facebook photo.jpg
Camera iconMr. Dodd even paid to print an ad for a new cook. Facebook credit: NCA NewsWire
Stokes Lane Cafe - I Want You.  Instagram photo.JPG
Camera iconThe entire staff of the weekend cafe has found a new job. Instagram credit: NCA NewsWire

Mr Dodd said he would use the weekend to spend time with his family, who are “growing too fast”.

“Even though this has been an incredibly difficult decision, I want to enjoy this weekend with my little family who is ‘growing up too fast,'” he said.

“All my weekend staff have found new work opportunities, all in place. No jobs have been lost because of this decision.”

The cafe will open its last Sunday on October 23 before resuming strictly weekday hours.

“It’s going to be a big weekend to get out,” Mr Dodd said.

Stokes Lane Cafe - I Want You.  Image Facebook.jpg
Camera iconLast weekend, the cafe will open on Sunday. Facebook credit: NCA NewsWire

Devastated customers responded to the Facebook post by sharing their support for the business.

“Far away – so hard to find staff – feel for you Sam!” writes local business Savvy Fitness.

“Absolutely amazing family run business that makes locals happy no matter when it’s open! All the best Sam,” another user wrote.

One user said the staff shortage was the worst he had ever seen, with many chefs working multiple jobs.

“They all already have multiple jobs,” the user wrote.

“The shortage of staff that the hospitality industry is currently facing is the worst I have ever seen.”

“It’s a common problem everywhere, the same with traditions,” said another.

Other customers shared their love and told Mr. Dodd to try to spend time with his family.

“The best thing I’ve ever done with my business is closing on Saturdays,” said one user.


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