In a January 19th Instagram post, the owners of Monti’s Cafe announced they would close the cafe until sometime in March. The popular restaurant at 8600 SE Stark Street is struggling to keep adequate staffing levels and needs the time to regroup. The adjoining business, Monticello Antiques, remains open with regular hours.
During the pandemic, the cafe’s customers have witnessed many positive updates to Monti’s Cafe. In April of last year, construction work transformed a three-car parking lot into a fenced courtyard with many outdoor dining amenities. Unlike other temporary structures built throughout Portland, this investment was a permeant commitment to making customers comfortable. However, spending on business upgrades will not solve all COVID-19 related issues.
Monti’s Cafe owner Kelli Vinther explained that they are facing similar employee retention issues seen across the foodservice industry these last few years, along with other market forces brought about by current circumstances. “Like many restaurants in Portland, it’s the same issues. Staff shortage and this ongoing pandemic.” Instead of limping along understaffed, the cafe’s management wants to retool the shop and return with quality food and service in a little over a month. “We need time to put together a good team and make adjustments to our menu,” said Vinther.
Foodservice locations across the country face limited staff, unfilled positions, and increasing ingredient costs. Those constraints are further compounded by lower customer volume, making food preparation challenging to predict. Temporally closing a business reliant on repeat customers can seem drastic, but it is sometimes the best approach to maintaining quality service. Kelli Vinther knows Monti’s Cafe will return stronger in a few months after taking this break.