On Memorial Day weekend, you can dine at Grand Haven Restaurant. (May 28, 2023)
GRAND HAVEN, Michigan (Wood) — Grand Haven fills out on a beautiful lakefront holiday weekend, and a surge in tourism has given restaurant owners confidence heading into the summer after a difficult past few years for the industry. deepening.
“We have two and a half months of crazy in the summer, but that’s where we thrive,” said Josh Sandberg, owner of The Paisley Pig gastropub in Grand Haven.
Local restaurants are booming as crowds gather for the unofficial start of summer.
“I’ve been really waiting for good weather because it makes people feel so much better,” said Steve Loftis, who owns several restaurants in Grand Haven, including Snug Harbor. “This weekend was a great weekend.”
“A little sweeter sun, a little nicer weather, people want to be out in the water,” Loftis added. “There are boaters, walkers, bikers, hikers, everyone you can think of.
As one of Michigan’s most popular travel destinations, it’s no surprise that Grand Haven experiences heavy traffic on holiday weekends. But restaurateurs hope the success will continue beyond the weekend as the industry reels from pandemic challenges, from shutdowns and restrictions to supply chain problems and rising inflation.
“We are working hard to get back on our feet,” said Loftis. “We’re really starting to put the pieces back together.”
“It’s like wiping bugs out of your windshield,” he added. “For a while we were looking in the rearview mirror, but now we’re looking forward.”
At least 90,000 restaurants across the US have closed during the pandemic, according to the company. National Restaurant Association. Loftis said he learned a lot from the pandemic, including staying flexible, being creative in welcoming new employees to the business, and focusing on what you can control.
“We have evolved,” Loftis said. “We’ve morphed into a slightly different proposition in the industry now, and that’s what we’re really good at.”
Both executives said industry conditions were generally improving.
“It’s gotten a little better,” Sandberg said. “The supply chain has definitely improved.”
“Supply chain issues have been fixed to some extent,” Loftis said. “Our guests have been incredible. They have been very supportive, as have our staff.”
Despite progress, restaurants still suffer from understaffing. The Paisley Pig Gastropub is staffed, but getting there and staying there isn’t easy.
“Staffing is still extremely difficult as you see everywhere,” Sandberg said. “We’ve been trying tirelessly to hire. Front desk personnel, like servers and hosts, are easier to find, but the kitchen was a challenge.”
The surge in holiday season customers is not only good for business, but it also helps restaurant owners prepare for a busy summer.
“With that increase, restaurants thrive,” Sandberg said. “We look forward to vacations because vacations are always pushed. Memorial Day is like the beginning of summer and prepares us for what the summer season will bring. It is.”
“This sets me up for the rest of the summer,” agreed Loftis. “We can see how the staff worked, what further training they need, what the guest needs are, what the menu looks like and what the prices are.”