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'It's Honestly Been A Nightmare': Restaurant Supplier Hits Pause, Putting Some Metro Businesses In Peril

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Ongoing supply chain and staffing issues are hitting some small restaurants hard.

As more pandemic problems persist, one of the largest food suppliers has hit pause on some Minneapolis restaurants -- meaning owners are forced to find their ingredients elsewhere.

For 18 years, Chicago's Taste Authority has prided themselves in bringing a taste of their hometown to East 42nd Street and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis. Rob Dubnecay is the owner.

Chicago's Taste Authority
(credit: CBS)

"It's honestly been a nightmare," Dubnecay said.

For more than a year, it's been hard for him to muster much positivity at Chicago's Taste Authority. First, Dubnecay says he didn't qualify for federal relief after keeping his doors open through COVID-19.

READ MORE: Why Are Will Still Experiencing Supply Chain Issues?

"It would've been better for us to lock the doors and gone to a beach in Mexico somewhere than stayed open," he said.

Rising crime and finding staff then became a struggle.

"We're paying 17 year olds $17 an hour, anybody with any skill $20 to $25, if they show up. We'll schedule 10 interviews and nobody shows," he said.

His latest beef is with his food supplier after this text two weeks ago from US Foods. Dubnecay read this message he received from the company: "With everything going on in the industry we have to take a pause. We're not sure how long this pause will last. Thank you for all of your business in the past."

It sent Dubnecay scrambling to find 95% of the food on his menu, despite the contract he has with the company through February.

US Foods
(credit: CBS)

US Foods told WCCO its Minneapolis distribution center is facing staffing challenges, adding this in a written statement: "While we expect this situation to be temporary, we understand the immediate service disruptions are frustrating … we remain deeply committed to working with customers as we address these challenges."

US Foods would not say how many clients are effected by the pause or how long it could still last.

"Moving forward, I don't know who to trust," Dubnecay said.

He finally found a supplier willing to drive from Chicago their way once a week. Still, with business down 30% from 2019, he's not sure how much more he can take.

"It's a snowball effect and I feel like it's out of control, I'm going down a hill in Colorado Springs and can't stop, and I don't know what's going to come next," he said.

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