Hostility towards the hospitality industry – WesternSlopeNow
by: Krista Spadaccini
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The hospitality industry has seen some crazy ups and downs over the last year, and this is especially true for restaurants. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was only take-out. Then restaurants were open with restrictions. Currently, in Mesa County mandates are lifted, but many local businesses are still having staffing issues.
Many people think local restaurants are short staffed solely because of stimulus checks, but many employees are just tired of the hostility from guests. Theo Otte, chef and co-owner of 626 On Rood, says “Nationwide there has been a lot of verbal harassment from guests during the whole mask discussion. We had a couple of people threaten to sue us when they wouldn’t wear a mask.”
Similar COVID-19 comments have been made to staff at Kiln Coffee Bar in downtown Grand Junction. However, baristas say they try to deflect the negativity with positivity. One of the coffee shop’s owners says, “In customer service you don’t have the privilege of being overtly expressive about those things. Me saying something brash and aggressive back is not going to help any situation.”
When Mesa County’s Free to Choose Resolution was adopted in April, it lifted many COVID restrictions and stopped the hate. However, as the Delta variant spreads, restrictions could return to the Western Slope, like they have in several states. Still local restaurants are ready to adjust and hopeful the verbal attacks regarding COVID-19 rules won’t continue.
In addition, local restaurants are asking customers to be polite, positive, and patient towards staff at this time.
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