DENVER — Restaurants and bars are getting ready to cash in on the excitement that is the first Broncos home game of the regular season, but for many it'll mean running with a skeleton staff.
At the Celtic, Efrain Monroy is the only cook in the kitchen, and with the Broncos game on Sunday, that's a problem.
"Sunday is going to be insane," said Noel Hickey, the owner of The Celtic.
Game day usually means a packed place for Hickey with tons of beer being poured and food being prepared. For months, he's tried to bring in more employees to keep up with the demand, but he's had no luck.
He knows those vacancies will really be felt this weekend.
"It's very hard to get kitchen workers right now. And, you know, we have put out many, many ads on social media and different platforms to get workers in during COVID," Hickey said.
If he can't get workers from the outside, Hickey said he has another option, though it's one that isn't as sustainable.
"You get my daughter and my son to come in and work. You get their girlfriends and boyfriends to come in and work and wives," Hickey said. "I mean, you pull all the resources out to keep these days, you know, make people happy."
It'll even mean putting aside some of his owner responsibilities and taking on new ones.
"I'm bartending downstairs today," he said.
Denise Mickelsen with the Colorado Restaurant Association says some sports bars, like The Celtic, are likely going to have a tough weekend.
"The truth is that some places are not gonna be able to seat all the tables that they have. They're not going to be able to let in all the customers that they would like to because they don't have the staff to serve them," she said.
That's something Hickey is going to try to avoid by prepping as best he can and keeping himself in the mix.
"I will open the kitchen myself," Hickey said.
What is typically a chance for bars and restaurants to rake it in could end up being another one of the challenges that have just been piling on.