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As U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops, Harlem Restaurant Owner Finds Promise In Younger Workforce

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Department of Labor added more than 500,000 jobs in October, bringing the unemployment rate to pre-pandemic lows.

But it's still a tough market out there for New York City teenagers. The unemployment rate for 16-19-year-olds is 26%. But as CBS2's Jessi Mitchell reported Tuesday, one restaurant owner is finding the future in the worker shortage.

Rolston Waltin opened his first Golden Krust Caribbean Restaurant in Harlem more than 20 years ago. Just as the neighborhood's rising prices were forcing him to downsize to a storefront across the street, the pandemic delayed his grand re-opening for 18 months. His employees found work elsewhere.

"In order for us to open, we had to use high school and college kids," Waltin said.

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(Photo: CBS2)

One of the new crew members is Emanuel Aboua, a high school senior.

"During the summer, you know, I had no income to my name," said Aboua, "so I applied for a bunch of jobs, kept getting no replies. And then I found Golden Krust."

Aboua applied to Golden Krust twice before Waltin hired him. It is one example of business owners having to adapt to a changing workforce, as unemployment hits its lowest rate since the start of the pandemic.

"I live in this area my whole life," Aboua said. "I've never met an entrepreneur in Harlem, so this is probably my first experience, really."

Aboua said Waltin is teaching him more than he ever learned in a classroom, and it is more than the aspiring entrepreneur could have expected from his very first job. Next, he wants to get his finance degree.

"Who you have around you," he said, "that can really, that can really affect your life and how your day-to-day activities go. And I'm glad I'm working here because if I wouldn't be working here right now, I'd probably be doing something stupid outside, for real."

"I'm happy that I could be of a little inspiration to a couple of them," Waltin added.

Beyond helping him with technology and new ideas for advertising, Waltin said his new crew has shown him how important it is to pass his knowledge on.

"Give them a try," Waltin said. "They are the future. And you know, if they don't have somebody where they can move on to places where they can get experience there, then what are they going to do?"

We have seen so many restaurants shut down for good due to COVID-19, so it's good to see people like Waltin bouncing back with help from the next generation.

If you have a tip about the happenings in Harlem, please reach out to CBS2's Jessi Mitchell by clicking here.

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