Idaho Springs businesses struggling to keep up with business due to lack of staffing

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Aug 25, 2021

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — Businesses everywhere are struggling to fill their staff as pandemic related federal unemployment benefits are set to end Labor Day.

The orders are coming in at Tommyknocker Brewery, but the problem is finding someone to fill the glass.

"Our biggest challenge has been staffing. We’re down about 30% staffing from March 2019 numbers, and we’re doing the same amount of business from July 2019," said Tom Anderson, executive general manager of Tommyknocker Brewery,

Anderson said it’s not just Tommyknocker dealing with a staffing shortage.

"I’m actually on the tourism bureau board for clear Creek County, and I know some of my neighbors in Georgetown who've had great struggles with employees as well, so it’s county wide," said Anderson.

That’s evident as you walk down Idaho Springs. With all of the store closures during the middle of the week, this mining town is looking more like a ghost town.

"It’s scary. It’s scary," said Chip Baird, owner of Beau Jo's, which is one of the many businesses forced to close on certain days because of staffing issues.

Like Tommyknocker, Beau Jo's is also 30% understaffed.

"Customers come in and say, 'Why can’t you seat us? Why is it such a wait?' We have so many tables we don’t have people to service them," Baird said.

To entice more applicants they are offering incentives. Beau Jo’s is paying it’s cooking staff 5% of what the restaurant brings in. Tommyknocker is giving its staff a dollar per hour raise to stay through Labor Day.

"It’s our way of keeping people through the holiday and thank you for sticking with us," said Anderson.

As federal unemployment benefits come to an end in a couple of weeks, Anderson and Bair are hoping to see more applications coming their way.

"I think will see more applicants. We have already seen a few. We got a new kitchen guy starting today. I don’t know if it’s correlation of that, but I do think people are recognizing that that benefit is running out, and I don’t think they want to be the last ones looking for jobs," said Anderson.

While most mountain towns hit their peek revenue in the winter, Idaho Springs and others nearby see the bulk of their business in the summer.

"Unfortunately, our business slows down, and I’m not hiring in the fall months," said Anderson.

Bair says he’ll still be hiring after Labor Day as he continues to balance high demand with a low work staff.

"It’s dancing on a sharp edge of a knife. You just have to keep your toes light and airy and keep moving. Every day is something new," said Bair.