Wisconsin bars, restaurants struggle in spite of high sales

Supply chain issues, ongoing labor shortage make restaurant management difficult

· Sep 28, 2021 Tweet

Marissa Haegele/The Badger Herald

Wisconsin bars and restaurants are getting busy once again, but labor shortages and supply chain issues are causing them to still struggle.

According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, restaurant revenues have increased as the economy has opened up. A report from the Forum said sales have increased more readily than the number of staff making a 6.8% increase from July 2019 to July 2021.

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General manager of the downtown Madison Nitty Gritty Michael Leto supported this by saying the Nitty Gritty’s sales have increased beyond pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s a little slower during the summer with a lot of the students leaving, but I’ve been [in Madison] since I was in school for about 15 years, and it was probably the busiest summer we’ve had,” Leto said.

According to Wisconsin Public Radio, despite the boom in sales, it hasn’t been enough for many restaurants to fully recover.

WPR reported that supply chain shortages, increased food costs and increased wages for workers eat into a lot of the new sales bars and restaurants are making.

Leto said food transportation and inventory problems are hurting restaurants all over the Madison area.

“There’s been supply chain issues on a weekly basis,” Leto said. “We obviously do our best to mitigate that and figure out a solution to those problems, but there’s just nothing you can do about it recently.”

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In addition to supply chain problems, Wisconsin bars and restaurants are plagued by a lack of workers. The Wisconsin Policy Forum report said employment was still down 8.8% in August 2021 compared to August of 2019.

Leto said he has had to raise wages to attract and keep workers at the Nitty Gritty. He also said the wage increases were intended to help his employees maintain a better standard of living after the pandemic.


This article was published Sep 28, 2021 at 7:58 pm and last updated Sep 28, 2021 at 7:58 pm


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