TULSA, Okla. — As small businesses get ready to enter the third year of the pandemic, many have overcome huge economic challenges, but now they're encountering different struggles.
Kenny Chan is the owner of Sushi Hana. He said business is back and they are doing really well. Now, the difficulty is getting the staffing numbers back to what they were pre-COVID.
Chan's restaurant sits at the heart of Midtown. For the past ten years, this former New Yorker has been enriching the palates of the Tulsan community with sushi.
“We are a fusion of all types, a little bit of Korean flavor, to mostly Japanese, and Chinese food,” Chan said.
Since the pandemic started, operating his small business has not been the most colorful experience. As for most restauranteurs, the pandemic has been challenging. In January 2020, Chan sold one of his two locations, not because he didn't have customers, but because he could not find a sushi chef.
“It’s high stress, there are days you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Chan said.
That same year, he closed his doors for two and a half months. He said the Tulsa community helped him survive.
“We had a hard time when we closed down, but they were all there for us with our to go orders and it does help a lot to keep us afloat,” Chan said.
Almost two years later, doors are back open for dine-in, but he's now facing staff shortages. Before the pandemic he said he needed five servers, but right now, he has about two servers working a day.
He said sometimes some of his employees call out sick, others are just burnt out.
HE SAYS SOMETIMES SOME OF THEM CALL OUT SICK, OTHERS ARE JUST BURNT OUT.
“We have to juggle a lot. If my employee doesn’t come to work, I have my wife coming, or I have a little help…my daughter, both of them…my daughter help us do the dishes or help me in front of the table,” Chan said.
He said supply chain issues or shipment delays have also made it tough.
“Sushi is harder to get, a lot of things are harder to get,” Chan said.
Despite it all, Chan is grateful for a supportive community and hopes next year is filled with better days ahead.
Chan said he is planning on soon opening up a ramen restaurant sometime next year. That location is yet to be determined.
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