Kansas City, MO

Why are restaurants closing their doors in Kansas City?

Evan Crosby

Photo byImage by Tim Mossholder from Unsplash

Kansas City, Mo. - Kansas Citians love to go out to eat and enjoy good food -- especially delicious barbecue.

However, between January 2020 and December 2021, more restaurants closed in Kansas City than opened.

All told, 68 local eateries went out of business, while only 61 new restaurants opened their doors.

Now, you might be thinking, "that was during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic when people stopped dining out (as much), which made it hard to be in the restaurant business."

And you are correct. That was a difficult period for restaurants.

However, despite the fact that many have moved on from COVID in 2022, a lot of restaurants throughout the Kansas City area are still struggling.

For example, Plowboys Barbeque, which was the exclusive barbeque of Arrowhead Stadium for the last several years, permanently closed both of its locations in the city, as well as its Blue Springs location in August 2022.

So, why did one of Kansas City's most iconic BBQ restaurants close its doors in 2022?

According to an article from KMBC, the four co-founders of Plowboys Barbeque "hope to retire from restaurant life."

Undoubtedly, the last few years have been a challenging time to be in the restaurant business.

While Plowboys Barbeque was a Kansas City success story, the truth is that most restaurants fail. COVID just made things a lot tougher for them.

It's a hard business to be in. Customers can be very picky about food and prices.

In addition to demanding customers, other issues impacting restaurants, both locally and nationwide, include inflation, and staffing shortages.

And the two really go hand in hand.

Given Kansas City's tight labor market, for many restaurants across the metro, finding enough help (kitchen staff, servers, waiters, etc) is nearly impossible. These staffing shortages are one big reason that a lot of restaurants are closing earlier than they did prior to the pandemic.

Restaurants that do find and hire new employees have to pay them more, which is further contributing to inflation.

Higher operating costs -- due to inflation -- then force restaurants to raise their prices, which customers don't like.

In short, even as many Kansas Citians continue to move on from COVID-19, a lot of the area's restaurants can't move on so easily. The pandemic's lingering effects, as well as staffing shortages and inflation, are making it more challenging than ever to be in the restaurant business.

And, that, unfortunately, is why many of Kansas City's most iconic eateries are continuing to close their doors.

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I write about careers, entrepreneurship, and economic issues impacting communities.

Kansas City, MO

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