“Specifically for new businesses, expanding businesses within industries that are already here, one of the biggest things post-COVID, that I think people are starting to recognize, is that we’re seeing a lower labor force than we saw even before COVID-19,” said Chase Rademacher, vice president of Workforce and Talent for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber.
Stone Town Grill in West Fargo was just one of many to start during the pandemic. They opened in November 2020 and specialize in healthy dishes from around the world.
Owners Jessica and Marty Larghe had trouble with more than just finding staff; they had a tough time even finishing the building.
“With a lot of like materials being scarce, with COVID, and all that and other delays, that pushed us back over four months,” said Jessica Larghe.
The road hasn’t been easy for the husband and wife team, they haven’t been able to take a day off since Easter because of a lack of managers.
Meanwhile, the staff they do have is largely consists of high school students who need more flexibility than most adult employees.
With limited finances, they’re hoping to get help from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, or they’re in jeopardy of losing everything.
“Something like that is life changing for our business. Without it, it’s gonna be a whole lot harder, it might not work out, we don’t know. We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Jessica.
After their experience, they want to give new business owners a word of advice.
“Whatever you think you need in savings, or for costs, triple it,” Marty Larghe said. “Because our costs weren’t just for building with the shorter amount of time we had to deal with went through the roof because the COVID and the cost of product now, and supplies, triple whatever you think.”
They also suggest business owners try to make a work culture as strong as possible, as it will help win over and keep employees.