A Dunkin' doughnut shop on Colorado Springs' west side that has withstood recessions, wildfires and hail storms over more than a half-century has closed its doors temporarily because it can't find enough workers — another sign that the nation's labor shortage has taken a toll on restaurants and retailers.
"We just can't get people to work," said Alex Apodaca, chief operating officer with JB Partners, an Arizona-based franchisee that operates seven Springs-area Dunkin' locations. A 2018 rebranding by the Massachusetts chain changed the name from Dunkin' Donuts and put more emphasis on coffee and beverages to go with doughnuts, bagels, muffins and other items.
The west-side Dunkin' at 806 W. Colorado Ave., which has been open for about 55 years, was closed in the last two weeks, Apodaca said. The location normally operates with 15 employees; it had just three when it closed, he said.
"We're in a major labor crisis and that is the 100% reason why we're closed," Apodaca said. "No other reason."
JB Partners had closed and reopened at least two of its Springs locations over the last 18 months, in part because of staffing issues, he said. Finding workers for its west-side Dunkin' has been particularly problematic, Apodaca said.
"That part of town, it's a little bit more difficult with hiring," he said. "I guarantee you, if we were 2 or 3 miles west, or 2 or 3 east, we wouldn't have the same problem. But for some reason, that pocket is just really difficult to find people that want to work."
JB Partners wants to reopen the west-side Dunkin' as soon as possible — perhaps in one to two weeks, Apodaca said.
Unemployment benefits put in place by the federal government because of the COVID-19 pandemic ended a week ago, which Apodaca hopes will result in more job applicants. Some economic experts have said the ongoing benefits had discouraged recipients from seeking work.
"We're hoping that it changes now that the free money has run out and that people get back at it," he said.
The labor shortage, however, isn't stopping JB Partners from launching its newest Dunkin', which will open just east of Academy Boulevard and Hancock Expressway on the Springs' southeast side. The 2,400-square-foot, full-service store will have a drive-thru and patio, according to a proposal submitted to city planners.
The location is supposed to have 20 to 25 employees, though only nine have been hired so far, Apodaca said.
JB Partners plans a Sept. 20 opening. But because of labor issues, that opening might be delayed a week.
"We're targeting the 20th," Apodaca said, "but with the way things have been going, I would say the 27th is more likely."