LA CROSSE, Wis. -

While the nation saw job growth reach its lowest in five months, one local restaurant is hoping to thrive in a tough economic environment during its first weeks of business.

Pearl Street Pizza has been open for nearly four weeks, and business is thriving so far.

“I’d say we sell about 300 slices give or take,” owner Jason Kuderer said of the traffic he sees daily in his pizza parlor.

Kuderer employs 13 people in his downtown restaurant, half of whom are students. He’s not currently in the market for more employees, and he’s not the only business not hiring right now. The latest Labor Department numbers report the U.S. added 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March. It’s a sign of the weak economic times that Pearl Street Pizza is fighting against in its first month of business.

“(I’m) definitely optimistic, I wouldn't open it if I wasn't, but at the same time, you always have your concerns with the job market," Kuderer said of the national report. He’s not the only one worried about the economic indicator.

"We're always concerned about students coming on campus. We have a limited number of jobs on campus, so we look to the local employers," said UW-La Crosse Career Services Department Director Karla Stanek.

The department helps current and graduated students find jobs in the local area and beyond, a job Stanek said often isn’t easy, especially in today’s economy.

"I think we've come through some tough times,” Stanek said. “It's getting better, for employment in general."

With the school year right around the corner, Kuderer said he’s hopeful he'll have a boost in business that may bring an increase in student employment along with it.

"Ideally, I'd like to get right up around 20 give or take,” Kuderer said of his staff numbers.

Stanek said she’s also hopeful that local businesses like Pearl Steet Pizza continue to thrive and provide employment for students who need the financial help.

“They’re open to working at the mall, working downtown, working fast food,” Stanek said of the students. “They’re just looking to work 10-12 hours a week to help finance their educations.”