ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Augustine Dairy Queen was forced to temporarily shut its doors because its owners and operators say they cannot depend on staff to keep the location running.
"It is with much regret we inform you that this store will be closed for lack of dependable employees," a sign posted in the establishment's door reads. "We will reopen after new hires are trained."
The same sign noted that the location is hiring for all positions, which pay up to $12 an hour depending on candidates' levels of experience. Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.
A Dairy Queen spokesperson told News4Jax the company is aware of the St. Augustine location's closure, saying they're working with the independently owned and operated franchisee.
The timing of the closure is noteworthy, not only because national employment figures indicate unemployment has hit an 18-year low, but also because locals say they've never seen anything like it.
Jerry O'Hare, who runs nearby Borrillo's Pizzeria and Beer Garden, said the move could be catastrophic. He speculated that there may not have been enough staff to keep up with business.
"Especially if you're coming off Memorial Day weekend, you do not want to have something like that happen when you've got thousands of people walking past your place," said O'Hare.
Those who work in the restaurant industry were candid when asked about the closure Friday. One worker said when it comes to applicants, they'll get those with substance abuse issues.
"Sometimes we tell them to come in and they don't even show up," the same restaurant worker said.
National unemployment figures suggest the number of people out of work has dipped to its lowest point in 18 years. St. Johns County, meanwhile, has the lowest unemployment in the state.
Representatives for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce said they're aware low unemployment can have an impact on businesses like the Dairy Queen.
Karen Everett, manager of economic development for the Chamber, said the organization is taking steps to make things easier on employers.
"We're getting ready to launch a job board through the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce that will more easily allow our employees to say, 'Hey, we have these jobs available," she said.