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‘It’s a shame’: Popular D’Iberville restaurant set to close due to worker shortage

Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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D’IBERVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - The shortage of employees continues to plague many small businesses, especially restaurants. In D’Iberville, one of those eateries is set to close next month.

For more than five years, El Milagro Mexican Grill and Cantina on Rodriguez Street has been a favorite for many. Hundreds of people fill the restaurant each week to order El Milagro’s popular birria tacos but now, it’s hard to keep up with customers’ orders due to the lack of employees.

For owner Brenda Vega, this isn’t her first business closure. In fact, that’s how her family came to name their restaurant in the first place.

“El Milagro means ‘the miracle.’ We had businesses before, but then we lost them. So, we were like, ‘Well, we’re about to open another restaurant. It makes sense to call it the miracle,’” she said.

Because of the pandemic, Vega has already had to close El Milagro 2, the restaurant’s new location in Biloxi. Now, continued issues with staffing are forcing her to once again make some tough choices.

“My personal opinion is because of all of the government assistance that’s being given out right now, it puts people at home rather than come to work,” she said. “Whenever someone would come in for an interview, the first thing that they will ask me will be, ‘Well, what are you offering me?’ The first thing I would say is, ‘Well I’m offering you a job.’ That just wasn’t enough.”

Right now, Vega said her restaurant only has six employees and most of them are in high school. With them set to return to classes soon, Vega said keeping the restaurant operating isn’t going to be possible.

“The students right now are high school students and they only work for me part time,” said Vega. “Whenever they go back to school August 4th, it would be just me in the front and my husband working in the back. We have over 100 items on our menu so I feel like one person in the back can’t prep 100 items.”

With that date quickly approaching, Vegas said she is still trying to come to terms with how fast things can change, despite putting so much hard work in.

“It just feel like it’s a shame. We’ve been here for five years. We don’t want to leave but the situation is just pushing us to leave. We can’t operate a full restaurant with two people because we still want to make sure we’re providing good service,” she said.

Vega hopes to open a taco stand in the area after the restaurant closes.

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