- Only half of the people who set up an interview at the Denver Chocolate Lab show up for the interviews.
- Owner Phil Simonson has said he wants to increase his workforce from five to twelve employees.
- He increased his salary from $ 11.75 to $ 15 an hour in some cases, to entice new hires, he said.
The Chocolate Lab, like many restaurants in the United States, is understaffed. It operates with only five workers, up from 16 before the pandemic, and needs reinforcements.
He hires a mix of waiters and chefs, owner Phil Simonson told Insider. The problem is, only half of the people who set up interviews don’t actually show up.
Two people work in the kitchen, including Simonson, while the other three are part-time waiters, which doesn’t cover all of the restaurant’s hours, he said.
Simonson, who founded the Chocolate Lab 11 years ago, hires between 10 and 12 workers.
To entice job seekers, Simonson said he increased his worker’s hourly wage by $ 11.75 an hour across the board and paid $ 15 an hour, plus tips. , in some cases. It also started offering medical and dental care packages to workers.
This is still not enough for some people who apply. “A lot of people are going to set up an interview with you and they don’t even show up,” he said.
Average wages for unsupervised restaurant staff hit $ 15 an hour in May, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Like many businesses in the United States, the Chocolate Lab suffers from a huge labor shortage. Some companies claim the labor shortage is because employees don’t want to work, while workers say they want better wages and working conditions if they want to stay for a job.
Simonson had to lay off all of his 16 employees at the start of the pandemic to keep the business afloat, he said.
Once business picked up this summer, he brought back five employees and hired two new staff because a lot of employees didn’t want to come back, Simonson said. Two employees then left the restaurant.
Workers who quit have left the hospitality industry for good, he said, adding that one of his former employees is now training as a massage therapist.
Catering workers have left the industry in droves, blaming low wages, poor benefits and a lack of flexible working hours.
The Chocolate Lab has landed in a pool of debt since the pandemic hit in March 2020, having had none when it started, Simonson said.
He had to take more than $ 100,000 in loans to cover operational costs, he said.
“If we go back to our normal services, I can pay it back in about six months. But if we don’t see pre-pandemic traffic, we’ll probably take a few years,” Simonson said.