Closing of 2 Roman Candle Pizzeria locations is example of Madison’s unemployment issues

The Roman Candle Pizzeria, a small business that started in Madison in 2005, is closing two of its four locations because of staffing shortages.

“There just aren’t people who are looking for the kind of jobs that I have to offer,” said owner and founder Brewer Stouffer.

He said he knows his business is not alone, and other industries such as education and construction are also struggling to find workers.

“There are just so many more restaurants hiring all the time now. If you drive down any street in Madison, you see ‘now hiring’ signs. You didn’t see that five years ago,” he said.

Stouffer said this past summer it “came into clear focus” that it’s no longer sustainable to have four locations. He has decided to close the Fitchburg location on Research Park Drive and the Madison location on Monroe Street.

“The day-to-day have become so challenging, so hard, and many times this fall I was delivering pizzas because we just had no one else who could do it,” said Stouffer.

He said the issue is that with so many open positions available, employees can bounce from job to job.

“In the old days, people were grateful to have the job and they knew that they could lose it if they didn’t try really hard. Nowadays it’s so easy to get other jobs that you see a lot of people (do) what’s called no call, no show. You have a lot of new employees that try it for a little bit and then they just move on really quickly,” said Stouffer.

He said when employees don’t show up or leave abruptly, managers often have to step in.

“Then you have owners or senior managers doing the job of shift managers,” he said. “But then who’s making sure the bills get paid on time and payroll gets processed? And who’s making sure that the hiring posts are out? Who’s doing the marketing? All the things that owners and senior managers need to be doing, those things kind of get pushed to the wayside just to keep going one more day.”

He said this cycle is exhausting for a small business owner and looking for applicants didn’t used to be this hard.

Stouffer is consolidating his employees. None of his Fitchburg or Monroe Street employees will lose their jobs. Instead, they will be transferred to the Middleton location on Parmenter Street and the original location on Williamson Street.

The last day on Monroe Street will be Saturday, Dec. 14, and the last day in Fitchburg will be the following Saturday, Dec. 21.

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