Restaurants across metro Denver are dealing with a staffing shortage. Popular eateries are struggling to find employees for jobs ranging from servers to the cooks in the kitchen.
"Denver's economy has really blown up. I think there's been an influx of new restaurants, at least a couple hundred of restaurants have opened in the last year," said Justin Cucci, owner of Root Down, Linger and Ophelia.
"It's just getting harder and harder to find people because the marketplace is spread so thin," he said.
Chef Cucci is getting creative. In some cases he’s raising paychecks by 20 percent, paying overtime and even offering a 401k plan.
The goal is to avoid passing the increased cost to your menu.
"If we could do things in-house to reap that financial benefit and not pass it on to the guest, I'm all for that. But there's definitely times we have to look at a menu item or a drink and say we have to raise this 50 cents for the cause," he said.
Despite the challenges, food service is still an attractive way to make a living. Server Kristen Leslie is a veteran at Denver's Root Down restaurant. She has been on the job for about seven years.
"The biggest draw about it is how much freedom you get regarding the schedule and it's surprising how much money you make,” she said.