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New Boise food hall trying to hire ahead of July opening, despite tight labor market

The Warehouse.jpg
Posted at 6:08 AM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 09:01:49-04

BOISE, Idaho — A new food option is coming to downtown Boise next month: The Warehouse Food Hall. It will include several local restaurants, some which have never had a brick-and-mortar location. In preparation for the opening, the company that owns the Warehouse and the restaurants that will be tenants inside held a job fair Thursday.

"Definitely a little bit stressed about being able to hire people," said Stephanie Bennett, the owner of Waffle Love.

Waffle Love is a local gourmet waffle restaurant in Meridian. The warehouse will be their introduction to Boise.

"Our concept allows a lot of local food and beverage operators to occupy the space, be able to bring their concept, whether they've been in a food truck or also maybe been in a catering capacity, into a brick and mortar location," said Steve Steading, the General Manager of The Warehouse.

But for many of these businesses, they need to hire more staff. Which is something easier said than done in the current labor market.

Idaho's April unemployment numbers held steady below 3%. The number dropped to 2.6% April. This is from 2.7% in March, but job growth is continuing with 3,000 jobs added.

This means there are more than two job openings for every one unemployed Idahoan.

"This just goes to show that Idaho's economy is doing very well even during these kind of economic challenging times," said Craig Shaul, an economist with the Idaho Department of Labor.

It's these economic challenges that drew Waffle Love to The Warehouse, rather than opening a second location on their own.

"Both from a construction a staffing, just a business standpoint," Bennett said. "I love downtown Boise and this seems like the perfect fit to get downtown."

Another of the restaurants hoping to hire said while they didn't see many people at the job fair this morning, many were there looking for work for similar reasons.

"It's a lot of other jobs. It's really hard right now just in every aspect. Gas is high, rent's insane," said Payton Packer with Cafe D'Arte.

Both the company that owns The Warehouse and the restaurants that will be inside that I spoke with say whether they have a full staff or not, they'll be opening in July.