Adjusting hours, to stay open through extreme staff shortages

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For months, business owners around KELOLAND have been battling a worker shortage and this fall many are saying it just keeps getting worse.

Over the summer, the return of college and high school workers helped keep many businesses going.  Now that they’re gone, several Sioux Falls business owners are having to make some major changes to keep their doors open. 

“This is one of the greatest places I’ve worked in my life that’s why I wanted to become an owner of it,” Bagel Boy East Owner Lyle Gacke said.

For the past 8 years, Lyle Gacke has baked bagels for his customers seven days a week, until a lack of staff forced him to make some changes.

“We shut the drive through down,” Gacke said. “Then when we started losing more people, we had to shut down two days a week, now we’re closed on Sundays and Mondays.”

He’s also closing at 2 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., all because he can’t find enough help to stay open.

“Normally we have about 17 people on staff, right now including my wife and I, we have eight. So half of what we normally have,” Gacke said.

Some restaurants around Sioux Falls have had to shut down entire sections due to lack of staff. That’s when Overtime Sports Bar and Grill got creative and actually made half of the restaurant self-service where customers get their own drinks and even place their own order.

“We will deliver the food out to you, clean up after you, the only difference is you won’t have an actual dedicated server at all times,” Overtime Co-Owner Jeff Doughterty said.

In 20 years in the restaurant industry, Dougherty says he’s never seen a staffing shortage like this, where he and his staff are trying to continue serving customers with at least 8 to 10 missing positions.

“It’s very, very difficult,”  Dougherty said. “We had to come up with new solutions, closed certain areas at certain times, adjusting our hours because we can’t stay without the labor… It leads to a lot of stress and a lot of sleepless nights trying to come up with solutions.”

He’s had the hybrid service in half of his restaurant for two months now and says so far, most customers are understanding.

“We’d obviously prefer to be able to do full service to everybody,” Dougherty said. “Its working because it has to work, we don’t have any other alternative. The other alternative is to shut this side down all together.”

Both business owners say their goal is to return to full service, full hours, seven days a week, but in both cases, it will take at least a half dozen new, trained workers to make that happen.

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