Kenney’s in Buena Vista to close after almost 60 years due to staffing shortage

The restaurant will close for good Saturday, August 7 at 7 p.m.

BUENA VISTA, Va. – A Buena Vista staple for nearly 60 years will shut its doors for good this weekend.

Owning and operating a business is complex. Arriving at the decision to close a business is typically complex as well. However, this decision and its reasoning are basic.

Like so many other businesses, the restaurant is struggling to hire employees.

“We’re down to three people and we need twelve,” admitted owner Steve Slagle.

Since the 90s, Slagle and his wife, Beth, have owned the fast-food joint. Beth’s father opened the iconic burger restaurant in 1963.

“If somebody had come to me 12 months ago and said, ‘Steve, you’re going to lose your business because you can’t get no help,’ I would have laughed at them. Everybody has got to have a job. It might not be a career job, but everybody needs a job,” stated Slagle. “Apparently, they don’t.”

Slagle says his three remaining employees have been with the restaurant for decades. They’re worn out. He and his wife are also worn out.

“It takes more than just the owners to run a business. You got to have good employees, and I’ve been lucky,” admitted Slagle. “I have really been lucky to have some good ones who hung in there with me.”

They have tried to hire more and more people throughout the spring and summer with little luck. Slagle says his biggest question is why it’s been so hard.

“It really bothered me because this is the only place I have known,” said Kathy Smith. She and her family drove from Roanoke to Buena Vista Monday for a burger.

Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed due to short staffing.

“I hope I can get back up here before they close,” said Smith.

She was among dozens who flocked to the iconic restaurant Monday for their fixin’.

“If somebody wants to buy it and they have a plan to bring in some help, come on and talk to me,” said Slagle.

Kenney’s in Buena Vista will open Wednesday-Thursday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and close at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The restaurant will close for good Saturday, August 7 at 7 p.m.

About the Author

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

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