DALLAS - There was already a service industry labor shortage before the omicron variant, but now things are going from bad to worse for a number of North Texas restaurants.
Covid-19 outbreaks among staff have prompted some restaurants to scale back to take-out only or to close altogether.
Texas' COVID positivity rate is at an all-time high, according to the Department of State Health Services.
New cases are impacting several small businesses who have temporarily closed their restaurants.
Navigating a business during a pandemic is an accomplishment in itself.
Now, with the rapid spread of the omicron variant, some North Texas businesses temporarily closed their doors this week because of new cases with workers.
"My husband started showing symptoms on Christmas Day, actually. And so we all went and got tested and so my two daughters and I, all three, tested positive," said Sarah Carlock.
Carlock owns Amor y Queso in Deep Ellum. Her business is known for Charcuterie boards.
Carlock decided to close up shop until January 9.
"I already had many people who had placed their orders for New Year's. I had to refund all of those orders. So it's like, you know, money in the bank that was only like temporarily there, you know, for show," she said.
In Fort Worth, Pizza Verde also temporarily closed this week.
"We had closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We got word that one of our team had tested positive for COVID at the same time that two other teammates of ours were sick, not with COVID, but just regular sick," Jennifer White said.
White is one of the owners.
Her pizza shop opened five weeks ago and business was going well.
White said with only seven employees, they did not want to put anyone else at risk.
"We already wear masks when we're serving, so we're already trying to take those protocols," she explained. "This new variant, it still remains to be seen how difficult it's going to be. Yeah, I just don't know what to expect."
UT-Southwestern researchers said more than 90% of new cases in North Texas are from the omicron variant.
COVID patient levels in the North Texas region are the highest since October.
For both owners, they opened their businesses during the pandemic and they see this setback as just another learning experience.
"I think hiring a few more people is going to be helpful if we have to transition to to-go only. I think that's something we're comfortable with doing," White said.
"Making good, smart choices and not sacrificing one thing for another. If you can avoid that," Carlock said.