A sign in the window of Just Hazel Cafe in Summerland announces the reason for the business’s closure. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

A sign in the window of Just Hazel Cafe in Summerland announces the reason for the business’s closure. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Labour shortage results in closure of Summerland cafe

Just Hazel Cafe had been struggling to hire and keep staff

The ongoing struggle to hire and retain employees has resulted in the closure of a Summerland cafe.

In late August, Tracey Savage closed Just Hazel Cafe on Victoria Road North, after continuing challenges in finding and keeping staff.

“I had five staff interruptions during the month of July,” Savage said. “I lost seven employees to other people.” In some cases, employers would come into the cafe and offer her staff new positions.

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In addition, she said there were some problems with some of the workers she was able to hire. These included people not showing up for their shifts and people quitting without giving notice.

“The labour pool has diminished this year,” Savage said.

At present, the unemployment rate in Canada is 4.9 per cent. This is the lowest level since 1976 when Statistics Canada first compiled unemployment figures.

Savage opened Just Hazel Cafe on July 1, 2021. She acquired the building almost three years ago and had been preparing for an earlier start, but when the COVID-19 pandemic began, she chose to delay opening.

Prior to the labour shortage, Savage said the cafe was running successfully and she was receiving good reviews from the public.

However, she was said there were other challenges in addition to the shortage of workers she had been experiencing. One of these challenges was the month-to-month lease on the building instead of a longer lease term. With a month-to-month lease, Savage said it was difficult to make long-term plans and investments for the business.

In addition, her son Taig Savage, 22, was murdered in Penticton in September 2021. Savage said closing the cafe now will allow her to grieve the loss of her son, something she had not been able to do earlier.

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