That’s happened to one restaurant owner in Bismarck, who’s been closed for a month. But this week, the man who runs Noodlezip says he’s ready to start serving customers again.
After five years, Marty Lee has it down to a routine. He’s all alone as he’s prepping dozens of pork dumplings in his kitchen.
“I originally set this dining room for serving 30 to 50 people a day,” Lee said.
His dad brought him to North Dakota, and Lee built his restaurant about five years ago. But the dining room has been closed for a month.
Like many restaurant owners, Lee says he just can’t convince workers to come back.
“We talked, they wanted a 15-day break. I talked them down, I can’t afford to shut down for 15 days, that’s a lot,” Lee said.
Lee says you could call this week a soft reopening.
He’s doing whatever he can to simplify it. A limited menu, paper plates, no dishes, he has two part-timers coming back to help out and his wife pitching in, whatever he can do to see if he does enough business to keep the place open.
“In order to do that, we have to make a food that tastes 10 out of 10 all the time,” Lee said.
“I have to scratch my head too. I’m a one-man show here,” Down Home General Store owner Brenda Ternes said. “It’s me and my daughter.”
Lee’s neighbors on Main say they’re pulling for him and counting on foot traffic picking up heading into the holidays.
“There’s that little ‘ha ha’, good help is hard to come by, well it really is now,” Ternes said. “So, I don’t understand why because people still need to eat, so why aren’t they looking for good jobs? I have no answer to that. I hope it gets better for all of us.”
“I just stopped worrying about it. I was worried for a whole month, but at this point, I’m just going to stop worrying. whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” Lee said.
Lee says there are a few things he can count on, his ability to cook, his family, and his faithful customers.
“When they walk out with a big smile after they eat my food, that’s the pure joy. You feel like you’re living,” Lee said.
Marty says Noodlezip will open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 8 p.m. for dinner.
Next week, he’s planning to open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.