DENVER — As Colorado restaurants begin to reopen without capacity limitations, several owners are struggling to find enough staff to maintain a full house.
“Honestly I think the hardest part going forward is getting our staff back,” Theresa Kane, owner of Blue Spruce Brewing Company said.
When the pandemic forced the brewery to shut down early last year, their employees were among the estimated 78,000 restaurant workers that lost jobs in Colorado.
On Friday the brewery will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity with six feet of social distancing between parties. Kane says she is happy the distancing will lead to smaller crowds for the next month because it will give her time to move furniture back in and hire more staff to handle more people.
“We have literally been struggling probably for a month because we know it’s coming,” Kane said. “I’m interviewing almost every day if they show up.”
Right before she met with FOX31, Kane says an potential candidate failed to show up for an interview.
“And that’s I think my biggest fear,” Kane said in regards to moving toward a full reopening. “It’s really hard to get people right now in this industry.”
Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association attributes the shortfall to workers leaving the industry for other jobs. He also said other potential workers are afraid to return until they are vaccinated.
“We’re now seeing an entire industry that’s gonna be looking at hiring people all at the same time, which that in itself is gonna be a challenge,” Riggs said.
Riggs says this is just another challenge restaurants will have to adapt to after the pandemic forced them to change the way they’ve done business.
“I am hearing from restaurant owners that are offering bonuses, signing bonuses for folks that have been on board for a couple of months. They’re offering other incentives to bring people back,” Riggs said. “I think we will continue to see restaurants get creative.”
The Colorado Restaurant Association says it will be helping restaurants find qualified candidates to fill open positions, but they’re also hoping to attract people from other industries.
“In traditional times restaurants are really great places to work,” Riggs said. “They offer flexible schedules, really can offer high paying jobs and they’re fun.”