Summer of Jobs

Patrons enjoy patio beers and nosh on a brisk but sunny day in mid-April

at Eddyline Brewery in Buena Vista

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We’re cautiously tiptoeing back into the world, and the kind of consumerism that comes with a witness, and I know the prospects are super, over-the-moon exciting.

It’s frankly pretty amazing how deftly restaurants and bars were able to pivot on a more-or-less dime, reinventing themselves to offer to-go food and drinks to keep them and us afloat during the pandemic. But still, deliciousness downed by me in the forest of my living room, with nobody but me to see … Well, did it really even happen? (By that token, it’d be nice to think that all the beer and food I enjoyed while no one was watching didn’t calorically count, but that’s not how physics works.)

“You can get a great to-go custom cocktail, and a great chef prepared meal … but that just doesn’t compare to enjoying that drink or that meal in the same space with the chef or bartender who made it, with your friends,” said veteran Colorado Springs bartender Montana Horsfall. “That’s absolutely what people are craving right now.”

After a year of fear and shutdowns, who could blame us for being a little itchy and over the moon, now that things seem on the brink of better?

But as social restrictions lighten, and more people are getting fully vaccinated and feeling comfortable heading back out, please keep in mind that it’s going to take a while for the world to catch back up.

When I got in touch with Horsfall last week seeking insights for a story riffing on the idea of summer 2021 being a “Summer of Love 2,” she was game to provide her perspective from years as an award-winning, now former, bartender in the Springs, most recently at Black Hat Distillery.

Given her druthers, though, she said she’d bestow a different title on the season to come.

Signs of spring in the Springs? A fresh crop of new “Help Wanted” signs at bars, restaurants and breweries.

“I do think it’s going to be a ‘Summer of Jobs,’ especially for people in the hospitality industry,” said Horsfall, who now works in the distribution sector. “What we are seeing in the industry happening now is what’s going to be record numbers, and record low staffing. Right now, everyone’s just trying to prepare … for something we’ve never seen before.”

A Google search for brewery and brewpub jobs this week turned up openings for service and kitchen staff at Bristol, Rocky Mountain Brewery and Phantom Canyon, to name just a few. That’s not counting the old-school signs appearing on doors around the Pikes Peak region.

Patrons will need to be patient as things adjust, Horsfall said. But they can also be excited about what this bodes for an industry that is all about keeping things fresh.

“Yes, this has been a really difficult time, for everyone, but now you can come in as a baby bartender, and be big and make a name for yourself in a short time. Same with chefs and other positions,” Horsfall said. “There’s a whole new generation out there that’s going to be entering the industry, and that’s exciting to me.”

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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