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Colorado Restaurants Are Back, But Many Are Still Missing Workers

A staff member at The Regional restaurant in Fort Collins uncorks a bottle of wine.
John Robson
Courtesy Kevin Grossi
A staff member at The Regional restaurant in Fort Collins uncorks a bottle of wine.

In the spring of 2021, consumer spending on the food and service industry started returning to pre-pandemic levels across Colorado. But despite an increase in busy tables and crowded bars, restaurants were still grappling with a worker shortage — an estimated 25,000 fewer employees throughout the industry.

Many restaurants came up with new ways to incentivize workers, such as increasing wages and benefits and offering hiring bonuses. But now with the delta variant looming in the background, restaurants might be plagued with an even greater challenge: trying to ramp up consumer spending while mitigating the spread of COVID-19 for a second autumn in a row.

Colorado Edition’s Erin O’Toole spoke to the owner and chef of The Regional restaurant in Fort Collins, Kevin Grossi, and communication director for the Colorado Restaurant Association, Denise Mickelsen. They discussed the reasons behind the current worker shortage, and the future of dining in the coming months.

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