COLORADO SPRINGS — To an industry that has been hit hard over the last year, restaurants are now having a difficult time hiring people.
A recent survey in late April 2021 by The Colorado Restaurant Association found 91% of restaurants surveyed are struggling to hire workers right now. Some are even paying people to interview.
“This guy’s going in the oven,” an employee at Pies and Grinders said while putting a pizza into the stove oven. As restaurants begin to pick back up, so does the need for workers.
“You kind of don’t recognize people who come in every week because of the masks,” Owner of Pies and Grinders Daniel Dreyfuss said. “It’s like ‘oh, that’s what you look like.’ It’s been a great relief and definitely an influx of dining for sure.”
Pies and Grinders is a family-owned and operated restaurant that uses only fresh ingredients, but they’re fresh out of new employees.
“The next day, I got 7 applicants; one showed up, we hired him, and then he didn’t show up to work the next day,” Dreyfuss explained. “I’ve gotten an influx of applications which is nice, but it hasn’t translated to employees yet.”
They’re even giving incentives like a sign on bonus.
“We are offering $750, $250 after 30 days and $500 after 180 days, 6 months to get more applicants in the door and instill some longevity,” Dreyfuss said.
“While restaurants are able to open up at 100% capacity technically, they can’t because they can’t find enough employees,” President and CEO of Colorado Restaurant Association Sonia Riggs said. “We’re learning that restaurants are either increasing their benefits or add benefits. They are really doing whatever they can to be as competitive as possible.”
The Sonic off South Academy in Colorado Springs had to shut down due to the lack of employees over the weekend. It was back open but were short-staffed.
“This is a very difficult time for businesses, it’s unlike we’ve ever seen before,” Pikes Peak Workforce Center Communication Manager Becca Tonn said.
Some business owners believe the number of applications stems from unemployment requirements.
“We are hearing that there needs to be some work on the unemployment front on what you need to prove to maintain unemployment,” Riggs said.
Just like the pizza, there’s enough workforce to go around.
“There are more than 10,000 open jobs right now in the Pikes Peak Region. So the jobs are definitely out there,” Tonn added.
Pikes Peak Workforce Center offers resume and interview webinars for free. They also vet the jobs first through Connecting Colorado, a state jobs database, to make sure the employer is legitimate. People can also meet with a job coach and have access to computers Monday-Friday at Pikes Peak Workforce Center.
The statewide unemployment rate in March remained flat at 6.4%. The April employment situation report will be released Friday. Colorado’s employment levels have risen by 46,100 jobs in the first three months of 2021. Approximately 66% of those job gains were concentrated in the accommodation and food services industry (30,400 jobs). Additionally, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped from 6.9 percent in December 2020 to 6.4 percent in March 2021.