Kitchen at Johnson City’s Go Burrito closing due to labor shortages, inflation

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — One downtown Johnson City eatery announced its closure on Monday, pointing to labor shortages and inflation as the main causes behind the decision.

Go Burrito said its kitchen will cease operation due to negative impacts brought on by the Delta variant of COVID-19. This is effective immediately, a spokesperson with the kitchen confirmed with News Channel 11.

While Go Burrito has closed, leaders with the eatery said the RumBar and ChopstixExpress will remain open and encouraged community members to continue supporting the small businesses.

News Channel 11 spoke with the Owner of Go Burrito, Douglas Carroll, who said it was “absolutely heartbreaking” that they had to come to this decision.

Carroll said he and his wife left steady jobs to chase a dream, opening up the downtown eatery just six months prior to the brunt of the pandemic.

He said it was a struggle and they had thought they’d beaten the worst of the pandemic until this past fall.

“We were either breaking even or doing a little bit better week to week, but starting in August, I really think between the Delta variant and the labor shortage, we kept losing most of our staff, and as the volume went down, it got harder and harder for me to compete with other businesses for pay,” said Carroll.

With staffing issues and volume cited as the reason for the closure, Carroll did disclose with News Channel 11 that 10 people working in the kitchen were let go and referred to apply to jobs in other downtown restaurants also in need of staff.

While the kitchen is closed, that’s not the end of this property. The popular RumBar and Chopstix Express inside the building will remain open. Carroll said they will discuss the expansion of their current temporary hours to better accommodate Chopstix Express.

Chopstix Express is currently in the works of opening a second location in The Mall at Johnson City but will continue operating out of the Go Burrito building as well.

With a full bartending staff and popularity, he hopes to make a profit on the bar or at least break even. Carroll said Tuesday he’s focused on finding a tenant to take over the kitchen and bar portion.

He said being a small business owner is hard, especially during the present time. Carroll encourages customers to be kind and respectful to the staff at businesses wherever they frequent, despite their thoughts on the safety measures that the facility may have in place to accommodate the ever-changing pandemic.

Overall, he said this was a tough decision.

“We’ve invested so much of our time, our lives, and our money into renovating this piece of downtown and kind of bringing a new area of popularity to downtown; it’s heartbreaking,” said Carroll.

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