Cafes and restaurants are struggling to find enough workers in Hawke's Bay, with one citing the shortage as one of the reasons it has to close.
Popular Hastings cafe Little Black Bird closed its doors on Christmas Eve after serving the community for seven years, citing "a combination of factors".
Owner Ben Cruse said problems finding workers and difficulties operating under the Covid passport system, among other issues, had led to the tough decision.
"There is no one defining thing that made us say we are going to close [but] staffing was a big part of it.
"For seven years we had been really, really lucky with the staff that we had - but staff were becoming fewer and further between."
He said finding positions like baristas, front of house managers and chefs was hugely challenging last year, and they could advertise for up to three months without filling a role.
"There was very little interest in those jobs," he said. "We had never really had a problem with staffing before."
While the cafe has closed, his business has survived by supplying wholesale food to other cafes and stores, and also through catering services.
"I'm just extremely fortunate that I have other avenues to fall back on."
He said another reason he and his wife decided to close the cafe was the pressure operating with vaccine passports and the inability to serve "everyone" because of them.
He said with Omicron likely on its way it made sense for them to focus on catering and wholesale, which involved less contact with others and did not rely on staff.
Shani Ehlers, owner of Shani's Eatery in Taradale, said staffing issues were hitting the entire hospitality industry, and Hawke's Bay was right in the thick of it.
"Finding new staff is proving very difficult," she said.
"When borders were open we would have travellers and backpackers working and there are none of them in the country at the moment.
"I also think that maybe people have a sense of insecurity when it comes to leaving their current job if they are looking for something new just with the whole Covid climate and not knowing what will happen."
Ehlers said while they were advertising for three staff (a chef and two front of house staff), to join their team of about 18 employees, they had not needed to cut back opening hours.
Shani's operates its restaurant in Taradale and also multiple food trucks, including two which fixed sites in Napier and Mahora, which makes their operation flexible.
"We have seen a decrease in business as the levels chop and change and I think customers are a bit unsure and insecure, and with the whole vaccine pass coming through there was a bit of a dip there. But people are getting back into the flow of things now."
She said takeaway orders had remained very steady.