With Utah lifting COVID restrictions, businesses are seeing an increase in customers, but restaurants in Cache Valley say they’re struggling to hire staff to fill the demand.
“It almost seems like everywhere you go everyone's hiring. It's all over in Cache Valley right now that everyone was just short staffed. I know some other restaurants, they close even earlier because they just don't have enough staff to stay open,” said Molly Snow, the general manager at Elements.
Snow said she has seen restaurants across Cache Valley scrambling to hire staff.
While warm spring weather brings in business every year, many Cache Valley restaurant owners say the huge uptick in customers this spring is likely due to post-lockdown excitement. Restaurants are seeing both indoor and outdoor seating fill to capacity and businesses offering event space have seen double the event bookings through the summer.
Holly Avondet, the general manager at Center Street Grill, said there’s been a springtime boom in business in addition to the regulars who kept the business afloat through lockdown.
“We have a lot of just regulars that even when we were shut down in the lobby, we still had them come through drive thru. We've been fine. We've come right back,” said Avondet.
So while the challenge for many businesses last spring was a lack of customers, the challenge this spring is a lack of employees. Barney Northrup, the executive chef at Crumb Brothers, said online school and unemployment benefits have likely played a role.
“Last year, we had lots of bodies and not a lot of business," Northrup said. "And now, everyone is seeing a huge surge in business. We don't have the bodies to pull from because lots of college kids that we would typically be employing they’re doing online school, so they’re staying at mom and dad’s house and not having to go out and get a job. And then I also know that a lot of people are riding that unemployment train because they can, quite frankly, make more money by not working than by working."