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Medford sandwich factory to close after 25 years in business

MEDFORD, Ore. — She wiped the tears from her cheek and steadied her breath before washing her hands thoroughly. April Kenyon walked thoughtfully to the counter where she would spend her morning slicing fresh bread and preparing sandwiches for the day, something she would soon miss dearly.

April and Brian Kenyon have been serving the Rogue Valley for seven years through R&D’s Sandwich Factory. But after more than eight months of struggling to find and maintain reliable staff to meet the demand, the restaurant is closing its doors.

“We came to that decision after the recent closure that Governor Brown put out, that we would have to go to take-out only, not that we can’t do take-out only but it is just another thing we’ve been dealing with, with the virus,” Brian Kenyon said.

The Kenyon's said they bought the sandwich factory which originally opened in 1996 from Ron and Doreen Hall in 2014 after having the desire to open a small business in their community.

“We came here every week as a young couple, and it always looked at it as wow this place is great, we can really make a future with this place,” Brian Kenyon said. “When it came to a point where we were financially capable of doing something different in our lives, we came here and approached them to purchase it and make it something big, a potential retirement for us.”

Beginning Friday, all restaurants in Jackson County are once again prohibited from hosting indoor dining after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced ‘extreme’ restrictions will go into effect Friday following a surge in hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases statewide.

The Kenyon’s said the move adds to the restaurant industry's larger issue of not being able to retain reliable employees.

“We are very successful, our problem is we cannot get employees to come in, my personal belief is, I don’t like to get political, it is because of the unemployment, they are forcing our hand to not have a pool of employees,” he said.

April Kenyon explained that while business has not slowed down the factory will close its doors because it is unable to compete with the wages offered to employees by larger corporations in the industry.

The couple believes the restaurant’s closure will have a ripple effect on other small businesses in the community.

“We buy local, this is definitely going to affect a lot of people,” Brian Kenyon said. “It is going to affect everybody, especially the bakeries and how much money we spend there, the owner of the property, is he going to find someone to come in, it definitely trickles down."