September 1, 2021
The hospitality industry is seeing staggeringly low staffing, increased food costs, and fluctuating capacity limits. Restaurants are trying to get creative and fight back against these factors that can be limiting.
“They’re streamlining their menus, you’re seeing limited dining hours with takeout options,” said Matthew Birong, Owner of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes.
Staffing shortages have closed the doors twice a week at Birong’s 3 Squares Café, so he bought a trailer to serve food from periodically instead. He said less space allows the café to operate with less staff.
“I can run that with a limited menu and three people instead of seven," he said.
Dickie Austin, Co-Operator of Bearded Frog, Park Squeeze, and Black Sheep Bistro says now he is seeing takeout introduced to restaurants who have never served in that way before.
"The pandemic allowed for a lot of folks that were in the service industry to pivot to a different lifestyle. the takeout piece has been the biggest change that’s helped us to buffer up where we’re coming short,” he said.
Monarch and the Milkweed in Burlington will be reopening their doors on Wednesday with a completely different business model.
“The pandemic really gave us time where we can focus and figure out what we do best and what we want to do going forward,” said owner Andrew LeStourgeon.
Now, what used to be a bakery, bar, and restaurant is honing down on their craft cocktails and specialty CBD confections instead. While they serve pizza from their neighbors American Flatbread Burlington Hearth.
“It was a blessing in disguise for our business because it allowed me to focus on what we needed to be focused on anyway, which was milkweed cannabis confections,” LeStourgeon said.
It's a transitional time for the service industry, those who are in it say they’re rolling with the punches.
“The idea that everything is going to go back to before the pandemic and will be just like it was, we’re seeing that’s not true,” Austin said.
Those who are in the industry also say they’re looking forward to what’s ahead.
“This itself has evolved in its purpose. I’m really excited to see how this kind of plays out as we get our feet back under us and get open again. I think the sky’s the limit,” said Will Fleming, Director of Sales and Operations for Milkweed Cannabis Confections.