Cook shortage hits Denver restaurant scene

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DENVER -– The Denver restaurant boom continues with more than 100 new restaurants expected to open in 2016. But with the explosion of new places to eat, there remains a problem.

“We have a quality cook shortage,” Zachary Spott, a manager with Olive and Finch, said.

Spott said newer restaurants can often attract veteran cook talent, while newer cooks struggle to stay in the profession because of Denver’s expensive rent.

“It’s a grind, long hours, you’re on your feet, wages aren't that great -- so it's becoming a less desirable industry to be in,” Spott said.

Spott believes the industry should consider an overhaul, allowing cooks to get tips that servers typically receive.

“Ideally, it’s the wave of the future; I think it would be difficult for servers to relinquish some of their share,” Spott said.

As new restaurants prepare to open, the problem could get worse.

One option that does not appear to be on the table is raising menu prices, fearful customers will go somewhere else.

“I would eat at home a lot more if prices went up,” Caitlin Dvorak, an Olive and Finch customer, said.