Kansas City area restaurants struggling to fill orders with labor shortage at food supplier

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Staffing and supply concerns at the wholesale food supplier Sysco are causing problem for restaurants across the Kansas City metro.

Owners in the Iron District scramble to fill orders.

Phillip Jones owns Kind Food. Some of their mouthwatering vegan ingredients are hard to find.

“Raw cashews, I go through probably 50 pounds a week,” Jones said.

What they can’t source local, they get from Sysco. But not right now.

“It was very sudden and very widespread,” Jones said.

He got the call the day before the truck was set to arrive.

This is what he heard: “We are no longer going to be able to send deliveries to you,” Jones said. “I offered to pick it up myself, and they also said no we can’t even do that.”

Sysco would not provide any numbers on how many customers are impacted, but said, “Sysco regrets that we have had to delay or pause service for a limited number of customers in various locations. This is mainly due to unprecedented labor shortages in the industry. We are aggressively recruiting delivery partners and warehouse associates, and our goal is to restore service to our impacted customers as soon as possible.”

“No timeline, no nothing,” Jones said.

Sysco expects this to be temporary. During this time, healthcare and education customers will get top priority for deliveries.

“This is, you know, thousands of dollars’ worth of orders a week,” Spencer Blakley said.

He is the manager of Just slide in North Kansas City and Sauced in Kansas City, Missouri.

Blakley said it’s been tough with unfulfilled orders of fries, bee, coleslaw and drinks.

“As the weeks go on, we may have to take some things off the menu, may have to transition to different types of menus. Hopefully not,” Blakley said. “There’s other local distributors that have been reaching out so hopefully we can work something out with them.”

Jones has been able to pivot, using local suppliers for now. He fears what’s to come if they sign on with another large company.

“I hope it doesn’t cause anybody to abandon or lose their business because there are options if you reach out, especially in the local market.,” Jones said.

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