Sometimes you’ve just got to say “uncle.” That’s what led Rayme Rossello to reduce Comida’s days of operation from seven days a week to five. It’s not for lack of business; in fact, it’s quite the opposite for the Stanley Marketplace taco shop. “There is no slow day at Comida. Every day is busy and that’s amazing,” Rossello says. “But we need a host, a food runner, a busser. I’m unwilling to be in the kitchen or on the floor seven days a week.” Like most restaurants across the state—across the nation—Rossello is drained by the labor shortage.
With no end in sight, and despite actively attending job fairs, posting on job boards, and offering competitive wages, Rossello closed Comida on Sundays and Mondays instead of further strapping her staff and risking losing customers. “What kind of service are we providing?” she says. “I’m tired of saying ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m tired of listening to myself say the same thing over and over. We can’t catch our breath,” she says. Rossello talks about having tables sit dirty and turning hungry diners away because the skeleton crew of one server, a bartender, a chef, and a manager simply can’t handle more volume. The closure allows her staff to have a two-day break—something she sees as critical both physically and mentally.
In Aspen, the Little’s Nell’s culinary director Matt Zubrod dealt with the labor shortage similarly. He’s down three salaried chefs and 12 cooks (and that’s to say nothing of banquet chefs). In addition to limiting menus and covers, spreading staff out, working longer hours, and cutting catering, the hotel has taken the unprecedented tactic of closing its fine-dining restaurant, Element 47, Sundays and Mondays during high season. “It’s the only way we can do it. But it’s working,” Zubrod says. The unexpected result: Tuesdays are now super busy. But then again, demand isn’t the issue—it’s supply.
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