For the second time in a week, a Charleston restaurant has been forced out of business by a lack of employees.
Kitchen 208 on lower King Street posted a notice on its door and Facebook page on March 29 announcing its immediate closure. “Our decision is based upon the very difficult labor force environment in the Charleston area, specifically qualified restaurant staff,” owner Linn Lesesne wrote on behalf of the popular daytime joint.
According to Lesesne, the cafe's manager had recently quit for personal reasons. As for the prospects for Kitchen 208's other full-time workers, she says, "Two staff members already work at Circa 1886 full-time in addition to Kitchen 208; we have offered the one full-time cashier a job at one of the inns."
Parson Jack’s Cafe in West Ashley earlier last week shared its plan to shutter after Sunday service. General manager Steve Morgan told a Live 5 News reporter that the restaurant couldn’t overcome challenges posed by the current labor market.
“There are so many restaurants in Charleston and each of them is hiring,” he said, adding that the dynamic is driving up wages beyond what independent entrepreneurs can afford.
Opened in 2013 alongside operator Charming Inns’ corporate office, Kitchen 208 specialized in egg dishes; sandwiches and salads. Like Parson Jack’s, it had a loyal following of pet owners who appreciated the downtown restaurant’s patio.
“Thanks for all the great delicious meals and a place where I could bring my doggy,” Kathleen Kaiser Holmes, one of dozens of Kitchen 208 fans to express disappointment on Facebook, wrote. “We will miss you a lot.”