Workers are the new weapon as states go to extremes in the battle for business

Monday, July 30, 2018

Forequarter restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, has managed to pull off a rare feat. Not only has it has stayed in business for six years, it is also still routinely referred to as trendy. On a recent visit, people were already showing up for dinner by 5:00 p.m. on a weeknight. Business is good, said owner Jonny Hunter, but it could be so much better.

“We’re not open as much as we want to,” he said.

The restaurant is open only for dinner, and it is closed on Sundays. Hunter said he would love to do more, if only he could staff the place.

“I think we would do brunch. We might see some lunch service happening and maybe some breakfast, too,” he said. “The idea of trying to open more services here — you know, we can’t even hardly staff our dinner service.”

Like so many employers across the country, the Forequarter is stuck in what experts call the skills gap — businesses unable to fill skilled positions. And make no mistake, Hunter said, working in the kitchen at a gourmet restaurant takes specialized skills.

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