COLORADO SPRINGS — Restaurant owners say in recent weeks, customers have come roaring back. the problem is--they can’t find enough people to serve those customers, and it’s making it pretty hard to get back to normal.
“3E’s comedy club is a dream that I’ve had of mine since the 90s,” 3E’s Comedy Club owner Eric Phillips said.
Last year, he finally brought that dream to fruition.
“We opened in September and we had a great show, sellout crowds for September,” Phillips said.
His story is strikingly similar to Liz Blakely’s.
“We wanted to do this for a really long time,” Blakely said.
She too opened her business--Uva Wine Bar--smack dab in the middle of the pandemic.
“We opened in August of last year,” she said.
Both of their restaurants made it through the hardest times.
“In December we totally had to shut down,” Phillips said.
“We need a full kitchen staff,” Blakely said.
It’s time to build back.
“We’re gonna be hiring front of house, we’re gonna be hiring another server, and we also need a dishwasher,” Blakely said
“We need a server, we need a host, we need a bartender,” Phillips said.
Those are jobs you’d think people would be clambering for right now.
“You would think, but that’s not the case,” Phillips said.
Not the case at all.
“We set up interviews and people don’t come for the interviews,” Blakely said.
“...or came for the interview and never came back<” Phillips said. “Or came for a day of work and never came back.”
And even when they can hire someone, that’s not always a safe bet. Both say they’ve had employees--crucial to their restaurant’s operation--quit out-of-the-blue, without giving a two weeks notice.
“We’ve had some staff just walk out before a shift or just not show up,” Blakely said.
“I had a general manager that-- the first day--he quit,” Phillips said.
Phillips and Blakely are far from the only restaurant owners struggling to find answers.
“We don’t know what the reason is… why we’re having staffing issues,” Blakely said. “We talked to other restaurants around town, it’s kind of the same thing.”
“I don’t know if it’s unemployment, I don’t know what it is, but it’s just not that hunger to go out and make money right now,” Phillips said.
And as one of the hardest hit industries tries to recover, they’re beginning to wonder, is that even going to be possible?
“I posted jobs about a week and a half ago… I’ve probably had a handful of resumes,” Blakely said.
“We need to make sure our customers are taken care of,” Phillips said. “And good servers and good staff makes that happen.”