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Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:15 pm

Suddenly the restaurant job shortage forced by pandemic closings is turning around the other way. I've been hearing frequent hints that restaurants are finding it hard to fill staff vacancies because people are back at work. Now this from Portage House:

Unfortunately we are temporarily closing due to a staffing shortage. We have been unable to find staff for many months now to join our already small team. We will remain closed until we can assure the standard of service that we expect and our guests expect. Please visit us at our sister restaurant The Fat Lamb in Louisville and support our staff that has made the move to join us over there for this brief period. Thank you and hopefully we will be able to reopen soon. Sincerely, Chef Dallas McGarity, owner.


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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Andrew Mellman » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:56 pm

Blackstone Grill (in Prospect) is offering a $200 gift certificate for anyone who recommends a server, line cook, et al, who gets hired!
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 02, 2021 4:06 pm

Andrew, since posting that I lurked on a service industry discussion page (where I have access) and there's a lot of talk about ex-servers having found jobs that pay real money and benefits during the pandemic and are now loath to return at server wages. That raises some interesting paths ahead.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by James Natsis » Fri Apr 02, 2021 7:43 pm

My guess is that extended unemployment benefits with a $300 weekly bonus until early September is a factor as well. If I were a young, single, low-debt-burdened service industry worker already on the dole, I would be angling to spend my summer anywhere but in a kitchen or dining room. I support the government initiative and have found it imperative to our incremental recovery. But I'm just stating the obvious.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:47 pm

James, yes, there's talk of that among servers, and I'm sure it's true of some. It seemed like there was more talk of alternative employment being attractive and anger at low server pay and zero benefits. So, probably both. If anyone is looking for restaurant work, in any case, front of house or back of hours, it's a seller's market. Lots of openings, and management making highly competitive offers. :)
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Jay M. » Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:05 pm

Apparently, it’s not just restaurants. And, to reinforce James’s point, I received this note from a family member’s residence:

“With added benefits for unemployment, stimulus payments and the upcoming child tax credit, the long term care industry is facing difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.”
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Richard S. » Sun Apr 04, 2021 3:07 pm

This is something I see pretty much every day with my part-time food delivery gig. Having worked in the restaurant business on both sides of the counter for decades, my feelings about this have changed over the years. Here's a sampling of what I think these days (I don't know anything about the Portage House, so I can't comment on how they were running their business):

A few weeks ago I picked up an order from a local (franchised) location of a global burger chain. They had a sign taped on the window that said "Now hiring managers. $9 an hour to start." For laughs, I looked up the cost of opening one of these locations, and it's anywhere from $1-3 million. What that means is this franchisee spent around $2 million or so on this location, but wants to entrust it to someone making $9 an hour. I seriously doubt they'd keep $2 million in a bank where the manager was making $9 an hour. It's no surprise that every trip to this restaurant is a disaster. I've been to several locations to find that staff had turned out all the lights well before closing, although you could still seem workers lurking about.

Although I disagree with the politics of the top people at Chick-fil-A, there's two things I see when picking up an order at one of their locations: #1, a line of cars wrapped around the building, and #2, a sign that says "Now hiring, $15 an hour to start." They didn't have to be forced by the government to pay a decent wage. The line of cars always seems to move quickly, and they never seem to be short -staffed.

Like it or not, the business world has changed. If anyone thinks they can attract workers by paying minimum wage, they're mistaken.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Mark R. » Sun Apr 04, 2021 3:28 pm

Richard, I couldn't agree with you more. I'm not sure which burger chain you are referring to but I can certainly guess reasonably well. As you mentioned Chick-fil-A has great employees were very conscientious and go out of their way to make customers happy. Their food is still reasonably priced in most cases yet there are lines around the building almost every time of the day. I venture to say that the cost per customer is probably less at Chick-fil-A than at the burger place because of the constant stream of customers.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Kris Billiter » Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:40 pm

I was in a local placed last night and was chatting with the manager. I asked if staffing was tough and she responded in the affirmative. She said they can have up to 50 people apply a week but no one will answer or return calls when the restaurant follows up.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by JustinHammond » Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:47 am

I'm 6 weeks in trying to hire someone at $16/hr with a full benefits package. 50%+ of those that apply don't reply to contact, those that I offer the job can't pass a drug test. It's not just the restaurant industry. And I'm guessing most restaurants are not running a background check or drug testing.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Carla G » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:30 pm

Totally agree with what may be causing the shortage except one thing....I know of very few 20 year olds that can be considered low debt burdened. Perhaps in relation to some new home buyers, maybe. But most I know are saddled with college costs that are ridiculous.
Digging out of this past year is going to be next to impossible for a great many.
The other thing I’ve noticed (out here in Oldham Co anyway) is a number of men and couples with full backpacks on and hoofing it. (Sleeping rolls etc.) I wonder if they been made homeless or if this past year has driven them to do the Jack Kerouac thing and re-evaluate what they want/know/think about...everything. In that situation, $9 an hour is questionable.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Richard S. » Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:27 am

JustinHammond wrote:I'm 6 weeks in trying to hire someone at $16/hr with a full benefits package. 50%+ of those that apply don't reply to contact, those that I offer the job can't pass a drug test. It's not just the restaurant industry. And I'm guessing most restaurants are not running a background check or drug testing.


Honestly not trying be be a jerk, but maybe the solution is to offer $17/hr, or whatever it takes to attract the type of worker you're looking for.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by JustinHammond » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:48 pm

Richard S. wrote:
JustinHammond wrote:I'm 6 weeks in trying to hire someone at $16/hr with a full benefits package. 50%+ of those that apply don't reply to contact, those that I offer the job can't pass a drug test. It's not just the restaurant industry. And I'm guessing most restaurants are not running a background check or drug testing.


Honestly not trying be be a jerk, but maybe the solution is to offer $17/hr, or whatever it takes to attract the type of worker you're looking for.


This was a $14/hr job before Covid, no problem finding workers. I was just pointing out that hiring is hard in every industry right now. I pretty much got the same results when posting at $14, $15, and $16. More applicants as the wage went up, but still no one really wanting to show up or past a drug test.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by Carla G » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:25 pm

[quote="JustinHammond"]
This was a $14/hr job before Covid, no problem finding workers. I was just pointing out that hiring is hard in every industry right now.[/quote

Before COVID, working in most places didn’t involve possibly risking your life or possibly contracting the virus and being left with a life long debilitating condition. People are asking themselves how much their life/health is worth.
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Re: Portage House temporarily closing - reason, staffing

by JustinHammond » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:39 pm

Carla G wrote:
JustinHammond wrote:This was a $14/hr job before Covid, no problem finding workers. I was just pointing out that hiring is hard in every industry right now.[/quote

Before COVID, working in most places didn’t involve possibly risking your life or possibly contracting the virus and being left with a life long debilitating condition. People are asking themselves how much their life/health is worth.


Maybe, but you can't live without income and they are tons of people out and about everyday, plus the shot. It's definitely a different ballgame right now.
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