PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two Sevier County businesses are having to make changes because of rising inflation and trouble finding employees.
Inflation in the U.S. hit 9.1%, meaning the price of everyday items has gone up from this time last year. On top of that, Tennessee’s unemployment rate was 3.3%. The rate is even lower in Sevier County at 2.8%. This is is a sign that businesses in need of workers are facing a short supply of people needing jobs.
Feaster’s on Teaster’s opened its doors right in the middle of the pandemic. They’ve gained some loyal customers, but now it’s time for a new chapter.
Kaylee Davis, the creative director for her family’s business, Grand Smokies Event Center, said, ” a lot of things are made from scratch here which is why our customers love it.”
Feaster’s on Teaster’s is just one part of the event complex.
“We have the hotel, and we have the museums here, and we have events that book our theatre,” she explained.
People may come for entertainment, but they would stay for the food.
“You can have a bison burger, or you can have an Indian taco, which is an open-face taco and it’s got fried bread as a base,” Davis said.
However, with food costs rising and employees becoming harder to find, the owners of Feaster’s on Teaster’s have decided to close the dining room.
“I love the customer service side of it, and I love coming in the dining room and seeing the friends that I know,” Davis stated. “We have a lot of locals who come, and we love them, and we thank them so much for supporting us and coming every week. That part I’m definitely sad about but at the same time I’m excited to see how we can better serve Pigeon Forge.”
They will focus their efforts on catering and will use the space for private parties. Davis said it’s a better way to keep the integrity of their food and keep the employees that they have.
“These employees, when we’re not having a catering event are able to go and work in other places for us and we keep the people we love which has been great.”
To be clear, Feaster’s on Teaster’s is the only part of this complex that is closing its doors. They have a lot more exciting ventures coming up in the near future.
This isn’t the only restaurant in the area to see the same fate due to inflation and a labor shortage.
Hickory Cabin Restaurant & Catering posted on their Facebook page that they will be closing by the end of the month due to a “struggle with sky-high inflation and lack of employees.” This restaurant also opened during the pandemic and had gained a steady group of customers.
“I’m very proud of and am proud of the employees I’ve had that actually cared about our business! The rising food cost and projected food shortages to come along with lack of employees has hurt us in being able to maintain our desired and needed operating hours in order to be profitable as a business!” wrote the owner on Facebook.
In addition according to the post, the group that is renovating the Pines Theater will take over the building after Hickory Cabin closes. The plan is for the building to be incorporated with the entertainment venue the group is creating in downtown Sevierville.