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Labor shortages lead to scaled-down Savor the Summit

SavorJoann Stac.jpg
Joann Stack
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Performers from the Latino Arts Festival perform during Savor the Summit in June.

Labor shortages in Main Street restaurants led to about 700 fewer dinners at Savor the Summit this year compared to years past.

The annual Main Street dinner party called Savor the Summit has been feeding and entertaining locals and visitors since 2007. Since then, the event has grown in popularity and scale – at its peak, 2,500 hungry revelers packed the street, which transforms every June into a very long, very festive dinner table.

The pandemic put the dinner on hold – this year it returned, but on a smaller scale due in part to staffing shortages in the restaurant industry.

Historic Park City Alliance (HPCA) Executive Director Ginger Wicks said that a little under 2,000 people joined the party this year. In total 19 restaurants participated, which is eight fewer than the last time the event was held. Wicks told KPCW staffing shortages are to blame.

“I would say it was due to lack of employees not being able to, you know, they would have had to shut their restaurants down to come out and participate in the street or just not having enough staff to do it," she said. "It’s a huge, huge undertaking for restaurants to participate in Savor the Summit.”

Restaurants are not just struggling during special events.

A lack of affordable workforce housing and a state unemployment rate of 2% have left many Wasatch Back employers short-staffed.

Park City is the most expensive housing market in the state, according to the city’s housing needs assessment published earlier this year. That means that many workers travel for their jobs here.

Park City Municipal data shows that 14% of Park City’s workforce lives within city limits. The city estimates that 31% of the workforce lives within Summit County. 28% live in Salt Lake County, and 18% live in Wasatch County.

In addition, nearly 500 city residents pay 50% or more of their income towards housing, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Despite the labor struggles, Wicks said that people were excited to return to the event after a two-year hiatus.

“People are just excited to be getting back to what, you know, what happened before Covid," she said. "So in that regard, it was fun to be out on the street. We had a great collaboration with the Arts Council and their Latino Arts Festival. So that was fun to pair up with them. And they brought some really exciting artists to the street which enhance the atmosphere of Savor the Summit.”

She said the HPCA is currently looking at dates for next year’s event.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.