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C.O. restaurants struggle to hire workers as busy season gears up

14-hour days, back-to-back shifts, constant rushes a reality

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The food industry has struggled throughout the pandemic. Now, as restaurants are expanding and reopening, the weather warms and locals and visitors alike come calling, they face a new challenge.

In "Moderate Risk" Deschutes County, occupancy is now limited to 50 percent for indoor dining -- and as summer approaches, restaurants have been getting busier than they've been for months.

But when it comes to hiring needed staff, some restaurant managers say they're in competition with the federal government. Stimulus checks help people make ends meet, but they also may not be as motivated to find work.

On top of that, some people say they won't work because they don't want to risk getting COVID-19.

As a result, some restaurants are severely understaffed and operating with limited menus.

Anthony Avraam, manager of the Pine Tavern in downtown Bend, said Tuesday that with summer coming, they can't keep their current pace.

"We want to be able to go float the river this summer, too," he said. "It's finding that work-life balance -- that comes with beefing up your staff."

Pine Tavern employees are on four-day shifts. Avraam said those become four long days.

Some restaurants with multiple locations have had to operate only one, to maintain business.

In the past year, the food industry has adapted to the numerous safety protocols and changes. That has impacted the hiring process significantly.

Jason Camberg, co-owner of The Point Pub and Grill, said, "It's just back and forth, and it's really tough. Retaining staff, training staff, going from being busy to not being busy -- it's really tough."

With summer and tourist season coming, restaurants will continue to be busy. Both the Pine Tavern and the Point are hiring for all positions.

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



  1. Stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits and covid psychosis. Oh and eviction moratoriums. There is no incentive to work anymore. It makes more since now to just live off the Government. I suppose they got us right where they want us. Enslaved.

    1. Well if pine tavern is still owned by that national chain restaurant family with the pouty daughter, they certainly have the ability to pay a higher wage and attract more/better staff, its called the market DUH

      1. We have challenged you to open a business so you can show us how it’s done. So do it. You are a brilliant liberal business person that can easily show us how to run a business and pay what you think is a “living wage.” Justice for Italia Kelly.

      2. You are wrong. A market is when businesses compete with each other to provide a better product, service, and value. In this case we are seeing government welfare programs that provide more benefit to the work force than the actual restaurant market can compete with.

    2. Heck yeah! I got my stimulus check and quit my job! Now I’m just gonna sit back and live off that $1400 all summer and float the river and smoke pot. Thanks Joe!

      Did that sound as ridiculous as it did when you said it? Good.
      People are weighing their options now, and serving people like you that don’t wear their masks and don’t respect workers suddenly doesn’t sound so good, especially now that rent in Bend is more than they can make. Don’t complain buddy, this is how capitalism works. If nobody will do that work for that wage then you have to pay them more, and/or provide paid time off, sick leave, health insurance… whatever it takes to entice people to consider putting up with the likes of you for 8 hours a day.

      1. Bravo to your great reply.😊 As a covid laid off waitress, hell yes, the last thing I want to do is wait on some out of town yuppie drooling over their 20$ eggs benedict and 15$ bloody mary at some psuedo swanky redneck bend cafe. I will keep waiting for the maskholes to disappear one day like magic.

  2. Golly. You mean paying people more money to not work than they made working would make it hard to find workers? I can’t wait until the government takes over health care. But good news. The borders are wide open and soon an illegal alien will be happy to take those jobs.

    1. The borders are not “wide open”. I’m sure there are a few living off the expanded unemployment, but I also know a few people who were in the restaurant business, but got laid off. The owners took the paycheck loans, pocketed the money, and laid everyone off anyway. They went and got jobs in other industries and are done with the flaky restaurant work. I can’t blame them.

      1. Sorry fool! By definition, any Alien resident here undocumented is Illegal! Get a job, then education, then start paying taxes you racist filth piece!

      2. They are NOT like me. I am not violating the immigration laws of another nation. Illegal aliens are alien residents without legal documentation or permission to be here thus they here illegally. It’s much shorter to call illegal aliens what they are. Illegal aliens. Go try this nonsense in Mexico. They actually enforce immigration law there. What next? Meth dealers to be called “undocumented pharmacists” so we don’t hurt their feelings?

  3. Mr. Moderator, are you allowed to provide a timeline or comment on when this troll board will be shut down; moving all comments to the platforms designed for thoughtful managed comments? As a troll i have enjoyed this but its just lame now.

        1. 2 or 3 times a day, use a cool water-flosser, my dentist is very pleased. Oh, you mean that they aren’t straight pearly whites? Yeah, go figure – I work for a TV station but have a face for radio.
          But thanks for asking!

    1. And also, the idea of a “comment moderator” is outdated and doesn’t exist anymore. How is KTVZ paying a guy like Barney to argue with people all day on this website? It’s honestly really confusing

      1. There are 1,000s of moderators across the country on media sites – it’s never been more important. And that doesn’t include the unpaid army of moderators who enforce the rules on Reddit.
        What I don’t get is people who use the site all the time and want it shut down. Now that’s “really confusing.”

  4. Exactly with all the help that people can get and not work people don’t wanna work anymore. I have people that I interview and they tell me straight up they don’t want the job they just got yo show that they’re looking for work they make more money at home not working.

    1. Start a restaurant if it’s so easy. So many liberals know all about business and how much businesses need to pay there should be an endless supply of highly paid restaurant and entry level jobs paying a “living wage.”

  5. And this is news? I have worked through the pandemic at jobs of my choice and all 3 employers have been clamoring for staff since this started over a year ago. Nobody wants to work anymore.

  6. Restaurant workers are in the next group to be eligible to be vaccinated in a few weeks, so that should help with the the availability of workers.

  7. Bend is a tourist destination.

    That means lots of minimum wage jobs to keep the economics afloat.

    And when this equation is out of balance the minimum wage worker goes elsewhere. Has to. Can’t afford to live in Bend.

    Same cycle has played itself out for decades now.

    As for COVID…Oregon’s bottom of the vaccine list ensured vaccination for the average Jane/Joe have a firm grip on the bottom rung. Another obstacle.

    Stimulus checks and all the rest may sound good as excuses (reasons?) but the bottom line has far more to do with a weak economic profile (tourist destination) than anything else.

  8. I’m thinking that some of the reluctance to go back to work in the restaurant business is fear of the industry being closed again and being laid off again. Maybe they are looking for a more stable industry to work in.

  9. Perhaps paying a decent wage and giving a option of full time hours? Most people who work restaurants have 2-3 part time jobs with schedules that change all the time. Comments here bashing workers are ignorant. You want to be served but have no clue on the high cost of living here will low pay.

    1. Again. Another angry progressive who won’t put his money where his mouth is and start a business to hire lots of people at high pay. Put down the bong and do it. Show us troglodites how to really run a business.

      1. You and Moron/Wish are the most ignorant posters here. Have and own a business in Bend for 20+ years. Don’t need business advice from Fox Idiots & Friends.

  10. I suppose that the more desperate folks are, the easier it is to find some who will take any job, no matter how poorly it pays. It’s a good system to encourage poor pay.

  11. Very true stoner and pair that with some corporations who have regional managers who rather lower the pay than raise it. Wont be long before we see 2,000 a month for rent here, i feel like we’re being portrayed as beaky buzzard more than the regal eagle as a national symbol and if situation presents itself bison our governor will shut down again

  12. This has to be said but NOBODY wants to work at the Pine Tavern. It’s like working in the cafeteria of a retirement village. Say whatever you want, the place is old and old people eat there. Yea yea, it’s old and there is tradition with old things but there is nothing cool or appealing about the place or the food or the atmosphere.

  13. When you pay minimum wage, you’ll have a hard time finding employees. It’s basic economics- especially in Cenral Oregon. Don’t want to pay higher wages? Fine. Good luck finding decent employees and enjoy the extremely high turnover rates. For those that disagree- lets see you try to make it on minimum wage.

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