Labor problems surface at caverns |

Labor problems surface at caverns

Challenged by the region’s labor shortage, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park considered a possible sale of the facility to the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool earlier this year.Those discussions broke off, but the labor problems remain, Glenwood Caverns owner Steve Beckley said Tuesday.He said other operations on the mountain such as cave tours and rides have been adequately staffed, but the restaurant has not.The restaurant had to close probably a half-dozen evenings during Glenwood Caverns’ busy summer season due to short staffing, Beckley said.”When you have a thousand people coming by the door every day and the restaurant’s closed, that’s just not right. … That’s a lot of square footage and a lot of investment that’s going out of the window,” Beckley said.Glenwood Caverns discussed a possible sale to the pool earlier this year. Beckley said the idea arose as the two entities were discussing other matters. Beckley and pool assistant general manager John Bosco said the pool decided Glenwood Caverns wouldn’t be a good fit.Beckley said that while he wouldn’t rule out a sale to another party, he’s not in discussions with anyone and now plans to hold on to Glenwood Caverns for the long term.”I enjoy being up there too much,” he said.He said the labor challenge that was a big consideration in looking at selling the property remains.”It’s terrible. It will be one of the major issues in the next five years,” he said.Many area employers face the same challenge in filling openings. Two of the reasons include the creation of numerous new jobs at the Glenwood Meadows retail development, and the high wages being paid by the energy industry in western Garfield County.Beckley said his restaurant had to reduce menu offerings this summer due to lack of kitchen help.Glenwood Caverns also has begun closing at 5 p.m. for the winter season. The restaurant used to remain open in the evenings. It will open in the evenings for private functions such as holiday parties. Also for staffing reasons, all of Glenwood Caverns has begun operating only Thursdays through Sundays during the off-season, with some exceptions over the holidays.Even with a four-day schedule, the restaurant is still short of help, Beckley said.”I’ve been running the restaurant with managers right now, trying to keep it open,” he said.Beckley said Glenwood Caverns is looking at adding some new attractions that fit with its adventure park concept.He added, “Whenever we look at something, we look at something that can be run by one or two people.”He said he has thought about trying to have an outside entity run the restaurant portion of the business.Bosco said the pool had looked at the employment aspect of Glenwood Caverns when it was thinking of buying the facility. But negotiations didn’t reach a level where that might have become a more serious consideration.The pool already faces employment challenges, he noted.”That’s something we certainly look at now and think is going to be a challenge for everyone in the valley,” he said.He said the pool can have difficulty filling food and beverage jobs.The pool looked at the possible acquisition of Glenwood Caverns for reasons such as the benefits of economies of scale and tourism packaging opportunities, Bosco said. He noted that the pool already offers some joint packages with Glenwood Caverns.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext.

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