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'Landmark' Wisconsin pizza joint to close amid worker shortage

The restaurant has been a local favorite since 1957.

A local institution will soon disappear from the dining scene in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Red's Pizza & Catering has been in business since 1957, when it was launched by Charles "Red" Lawler and his wife Dorothy, according to the restaurant's website. It's been in the Lawler family ever since and has become "an Oshkosh landmark" over the decades. 

On Friday, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported that Red's will be closing after 64 years, with Sunday, September 26, being its last day in business. 

The publication notes that staffing shortages were a major factor in the decision, with current owner Steve Lawler saying "it's been very difficult finding help," and that he "wanted to hang around for a couple more years yet, but it just isn't in the cards."

Nonetheless, the business has catering events booked through December, while Lawler is hoping to sell the business to keep it going, the Oshkosh Northwestern says.

Red's is certainly not alone in facing labor shortages. The restaurant industry has struggled to find and keep workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as suggested by a recent trend of restaurant owners posting "no one wants to work anymore" signs on their doors.  

As ABC News writes, the reasons behind the shortage have become the subject of political controversy, with Republicans blaming enhanced unemployment benefits passed by Congress for keeping workers home. 

But Democrats argue that low wages are to blame, the network notes. Others believe the demands of the restaurant business itself are also a factor.

One San Francisco restaurateur told Eater that employees may be staying home because the "relentless and often thankless nature of kitchen and front-of-house work just doesn’t seem worth it now that the risks are so much higher" amid a global pandemic. 

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