A popular restaurant in the heart of Little Italy is closing its doors in less than two weeks. The Foolish Chicken, soon to be foolish no longer.

It’s considered one of the best chicken and rib joints in the city, and it’s now up for sale.

The owners, Rick Boland and Natalie Aucoin, blame staff shortages. They’re finding it hard to replace those who left during the pandemic closures.

“We were hoping to carry on but we were having a real difficulty finding staff,” says Boland. “People left the industry, I believe, at the start of COVID. They weren’t getting hours, it wasn’t a reliable job, and they found work in other industries.”

It’s a problem Restaurants Canada Central VP James Rilett says affects the entire restaurant industry.

“A lot of people left our industry, a lot of good people,” says Rilett. “A lot of skilled employees left simply because we were closed. So, it’s hard replacing all those people. And it’s hard replacing the skill set as well.”

It’s a mix of emotion for Rick and his wife Natalie: it's tough to see the 15-year run come to an end, but they're excited to see what’s next.

“We’re looking for a little bit more quality of life,” says Aucoin. “It feels very bittersweet. Part of me is incredibly sad. I’m going to miss all of my customers. But the other half of me is excited for the next chapter.”

With so few staff available, the owners were forced to take on all the extra work themselves, which they said was unsustainable.

“In general, running a restaurant is hard,” says Aucoin. “The pandemic made it harder, yes, but it wasn’t easy even before that.”

Barring a sale, The Foolish Chicken will close its doors for good April 24.

“There’s so many awesome people that I may never see again once I close my doors,” says Boland. “I just want to say thank you to all the people that have supported us over the years, there’s way too many to mention. That is what we will miss the most is you folks. And hope to see you sometime, maybe bump into you on the street.”