‘We really struggle:’ Award-winning Lake County restaurant closing

Owner blames labor shortages, inflation

Businesses in Lake County are being forced to shut their doors because of nationwide problems — workforce shortages and inflation.

CLERMONT, Fla. – Businesses in Lake County are being forced to shut their doors because of nationwide problems — workforce shortages and inflation.

Uncle Kenny’s Barbecue in Clermont is one of those locations. The award-winning barbecue joint said it can’t get enough workers.

“We really struggle to find help,” said Kenny Nadeau, the owner. “We can’t get one interview. We haven’t had a response on an interview in over three weeks

Uncle Kenny’s Barbecue is not alone when it comes to staffing shortages.

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The Tap House, just a few minutes down the road off U.S. 27, already closed its doors last month.

A Facebook post also cited staffing challenges, as well as rising food costs and wages.

Nadeau echoed those issues when discussing his own shutdown, adding that even increased sales are not helping his business.

“We’re doubling our sales every day right now, and we are doing it with five people,” Nadeau said.

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News 6 reached out to an associate professor in economics, Dr. Victor Claar, at Florida Gulf Coast University to learn more about a recent trend in business closures.

“What we are seeing is a fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the industries most impacted are retail and restaurants,” he said.

Claar said small businesses will have some tough decisions to make as he predicts prices won’t be going down any time soon.

“I think we are going to continue to see some increases in consumer prices,” Claar said. “Remember even though it seems inflation rates are flattening, just because they are flattening doesn’t mean that they are not positive.”

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Mario Ferazzoli, the owner of Razzo’s Pizzeria — which is taking over Pizzano’s Pizza in Clermont — said while inflation and staffing shortages are a worry, he remains hopeful.

“I get to dictate my prices according to what their selling to me for, so I look at it as an advantage,” Ferazzoli said,

Ferazzoli said he already has promising applicants down, but only time will tell.

“It’s only a matter of time, see if they work out and see if they are willing to put in the time and effort to make this place what it possibly could be, " Ferazzoli said.

Uncle Kenny’s Barbecue will be shutting down on June 5. Razzo’s Pizzeria is opening around the same time.

Claar advises small businesses to make a plan that fits their needs and hold on until inflation decreases.



About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.