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Hospitality Needs To Work Both Ways

**Below is an op-ed article written by Alicia and submitted to local publications on the state of our industry**

The service industry is in a crisis. If you’ve tried to go out to any of your favorite restaurants lately, you’ve probably noticed that their hours have been reduced, they’re having to close early, or they’re having to close for entire days. It’s all for the same reason. We simply can’t hire enough staff to make it sustainable.

It’s not for lack of trying. Some employers are offering signing bonuses and referral bonuses, and some even offer a cash incentive simply to show up for the interview. The jobs pay well, with many offering medical and retirement benefits as well. There simply aren’t enough people even looking for a job to support the demand. While this is not just local to us, Truckee-Tahoe is especially impacted. Supply chains are still a mess, and the timing of the lunch/midday/dinner rushes are all over the map.

What does this really mean? It means that those employees who have chosen to go back to work and show up everyday are exhausted and burnt out. It means employers are scaling back hours and days of operation in order to protect their staff and give them a break. It means that we often run out of items or end up on an hour-long wait in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, because these are truly unprecedented times. It’s not a matter of throwing money at overtime pay. It’s a matter of recognizing that our staff are important and not a commodity to be used up, and that these are stressful work conditions. Protecting their mental well-being is very important to us. We simply need more staff.

So here is our collective plea to everyone. Please be kind. Please be patient. Please do not spend 3 minutes yelling at a host because they have stopped seating, per the posted hours. Please do not slam the door in the face of an employee as they try to explain and apologize that they had to close early because 2 cooks are sick, and they were short staffed to begin with. Please do not yell at someone that they deserve to go out of business because they had to unexpectedly close down for a day simply to give their staff a break. Please do not say to a host “Are you f*ing kidding me? This is bullsh*t.” when they try to tell you it’s currently an hour and a half wait. Sadly, these all actually happened, and I know there are countless more stories like them.

Hospitality needs to work both ways. All of us in the service industry are passionate about what we do. We truly enjoy inviting you into our establishments and breaking bread with you, sharing our passion with you, and striving to be a bright spot in your day. But as a guest in our home-away-from-home, we also ask you to be courteous, gracious, and respectful. Most of all, we simply ask that you be kind. Our staff is family to us, and we will continue to stand by and protect them.

After a year and a half of limitations, it’s exciting to be able to dine out with friends again and share some good times and laughter. All of us, patrons and proprietors alike, should be looking at these experiences as an opportunity to enjoy the social interactions and the little things that make life so wonderful. We should also all be cutting each other a little slack, and showing a little empathy, as we relearn our way forward while adapting to a new and constantly evolving world.

Our region is fortunate enough to have a large variety and number of restaurants for our size. On this current path, however, we are going to burn out and lose the people that make that possible, and that would be a loss for all of us.

-Alicia Barr

Truckee Craft Ventures

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