Food festivals being canceled across the metro because of restaurant staff shortages

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Several food-based restaurant festivals are being canceled across the metro for the second year in a row, but this time, it’s not because of COVID-19 cases.

Dozens of restaurants were scheduled to line the streets of downtown Smyrna this weekend, but the event had to be called off at the last minute because of staffing shortages.

“We were really looking forward to it. It’s a key event we do every year,” Sawyer Williamson, Vice President of Operations for Williamson Bros. BBQ told Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins.

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The free event typically includes 30 local restaurants putting their best fares forward for the community to get a taste. Low staffing levels at restaurants in Smyrna and across Georgia forced organizers to cancel the annual event.

“I’m not entirely surprised, it’s very unfortunate because those are the things we like to be a part of, especially in the industry,” Jeff Green, General Manager at Createwood Tavern said.

Restaurants across Georgia are still feeling the heat as they try their best to survive the fallout of the pandemic.

“Especially around our area, and around the state, [restaurants] are just hurting. We are not sure exactly what caused that, if it was stimulus checks or what, but we sure hope people come back because we sure do miss them,” Green said.

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The City of Marietta has also been forced to postpone their Taste of Marietta event for similar reasons. It is now scheduled to take place in the Spring.

The annual Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival held in Atlantic Station was also canceled.

Restaurants like Williamson Bros. BBQ say that while they have been lucky throughout the pandemic, they are disappointed about the cancellations.

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Despite cancellations, restaurant owners say they are relying on other events to keep their progress and business momentum going.

“We were already and slated for it, but we did two in place of it. We were at Bourbon and BBQ yesterday and we were at Music Midtown today,” Williamson said.

“The less employees that we have, it makes it so much harder to run. Luckily, we have a lot of patient people, but it does get rough at times,” said Green.

Restaurant owners across the metro say they are looking forward to the holiday rush to help revitalize their businesses.

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