Local Artisan at 310 W. Fourth St. has closed temporarily because of staff shortages.
“We are interviewing and trying to hire and train staff,” said owner Greg Carlyle. ”But right now, it made sense to take a breath and close for a while.”
Carlyle, who also owns the Millennium Center for catering and events, has run Local Artisan for about 10 years in several reincarnations.
Before the pandemic, it had operated as Local 27101, a casual lunch spot offering hamburgers and sandwiches.
Local 27101 — which had been in operation since 2015 — closed in March when the pandemic hit and the bulk of downtown’s office workers starting working from home.
In October, Carlyle came back with Local Artisan, a concept that harkened back to Carlyle’s original use of the space as Artisan Millennium Restaurant from 2012 to 2015.
Local Artisan operated as a hybrid of the fast-casual lunch concept and the more upscale dinner restaurant that was Artisan.
Carlyle said he has not decided to change the concept again — though new ideas are on the table as he tries to deal with changing dining habits downtown.
The temporary closing simply was a matter of too few employees to meet the surging demand this spring.
“We are all understaffed,” he said, referring to restaurants in Winston-Salem and across the country. “I held out as long as I could.”
Carlyle said he hopes the closing will be short-lived, but he expects it to take some time to get his staff levels back up where he needs them.
Restaurants were caught short-handed in March when vaccinated and other customers started to return to restaurant dining rooms and patios again, but restaurants still had pandemic-level minimal staffing. In the past year, some workers have found jobs outside the industry. Many don’t plan to return, citing better pay, benefits, safety and job security in other lines of work. Some of the problem has been attributed to lack of child care and supplemental unemployment benefits.
“Everybody I talk to is in the same boat,” Carlyle said. “We had a sign in our window advertising for help for a month, and no one applied.”
Carlyle said it is good news that business is picking up. He is especially grateful for a gradual return of parties and events for his core business at the Millennium Center, but that only has created more staff problems.
“My core staff has been working both places, going back and forth from the Millennium to Local Artisan, and working 60 hours a week. Believe me, they were happy when I closed Local Artisan, because they’re getting burned out.”