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Bars Are Back, Workers Are Not

September 20, 2022

Courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog

Conditions in the bar business are certainly much better off than they were in the middle of COVID.  

In fact, the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) describes the recent summer tourism season as “amazing and awesome.” Yet, the harsh reality is the shortage of personnel to serve patrons is still a huge challenge, according to the group’s Executive Director Scott Ellis.

“94% of our members had a substantial pay increase for their employees,” he reported. However, things are not back to normal. There still isn’t enough staff to refill the depleted ranks.

In Traverse City around Labor Day, Ellis reported from personal experience that bars and related businesses were closing at 7 p.m. because they didn’t have the staff to keep them open later.

“We went to seven different places and 80% closed early,” the frustrated Ellis reported.

He also reflected that consumers have changed their habits, inflation has now become a new factor to deal with and like those in Traverse City, bars statewide are not going into all hours of the night like they did pre-COVID.

“We have lost people in the industry,” he reported.

When they surveyed 200 association members, the MLBA found 12 had shut their doors for good. 

So while “the people are back,” one could say they are waiting a little longer to get served.

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