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The Restaurant Labor Shortage Is Playing Out on This Baker’s Instagram

Grateful Bread Company’s owner says a lack of good workers caused him to suspend retail operations

Grateful Bread Company is a Golden, Colorado-based bakery that supplies Denver restaurants
Grateful Bread/Facebook

A Golden-based baker has become a lightning rod in Denver‘s restaurant labor shortage debate, following an announcement late last week that he was shutting down his retail shop. Grateful Bread Company, which supplies many Denver restaurants, will no longer sell out of a storefront at 425 Violet Street on Saturdays, though it will continue wholesale operations.

Thirty-year restaurant industry veteran and Grateful Bread owner Jeff Cleary made the announcement first on his business’ Facebook page, explaining that the store closure was “due to labor shortage.” He continued the explanation on Instagram: “...[W]e just don’t have enough staff and it doesn’t look like finding competent staff with the current labor pool is going to get any better anytime soon.”

Cleary’s complaint was with employee work ethic and “competence.” Responding to his social media post, other bakers, chefs, and business owners for the most part commiserated. “There is a major shortage of restaurant workers for whatever reasons and [Grateful Bread] isn’t the first restaurant to shut down currently due to lack of staffing and won’t be the last,” wrote one Vail-based chef. Some commenters blamed the marijuana industry, while others said the issue was generational.

As of 2018, the tipped minimum wage in Colorado is $7.18, and it will be $8.98 by 2020, when the regular minimum wage will reach $12. “Raising minimum wage doesn’t fix the problem,” wrote @proofbread in response to Grateful Bread’s post. ”Businesses just react by raising prices if they can to absorb the hit. Labor is our most expensive ingredient, at every rate of pay. Living wages are great and should be followed, but wages should not be an entitlement.”

Are you in the restaurant industry and dealing with the labor shortage? Let us know your thoughts.