By Jonathan Phelps, New Hampshire Union Leader
New Hampshire’s labor shortage has created more than just an internal struggle for employers.
Customers are feeling the pinch, too.
Even as COVID-19 restrictions lift, vaccination rates increase and business rebounds, restaurants and entertainment venues have reduced hours because they can’t fill shifts.
The labor force is tighter than before the pandemic. Besides reduced hours, drawbacks to the sudden return to business include increased wait times at restaurants and higher prices.
To draw more candidates, companies are offering bonuses as never before, conducting on-the-spot interviews and relaxing policies on tattoos and piercings.
By Carol Robidoux, Manchester InkLink
MANCHESTER, NH – When COVID-19 landed in the U.S. in one of the hardest-hit industries was restaurants. Many were forced to close with no notice, leaving many workers suddenly unemployed. Although some businesses were able to pivot to take-out and slowly recover some of what was lost, or apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep their workforc, the government in 2021 established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion fund administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help those eligible businesses that were still standing to rebound.
The program, which is no longer taking applications according to the SBA website, has provided restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. Funds were approved in June.
As of Jun 30, there were 101,004 U.S. businesses approved for $28,574,979,472 in Revitalization funds. Of those, there were 418 NH restaurants approved for $90,697,690.
Below are the 40 restaurants in Manchester that received a total of $7,977,668 in funding, followed by the complete list of NH restaurants on the list of recipients.
By Bob Sanders, NH Business Review
Some 418 New Hampshire restaurants will receive a total of more than $90 million through the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund, an average of $217,000 per establishment, according to U.S. Small Business Administration figures released Tuesday. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that 591 Granite State restaurants that applied for help didn’t receive anything at all, giving the state a grant approval rate of 41.4% – and that’s one of the better rates in the country.
The figures are based on approvals through June 30, shortly before the program stopped accepting applications because it ran out of money.
By Ian Lenahan, Portsmouth Herald
PORTSMOUTH — Not even three full months since reopening after a winter hibernation due to COVID-19, the Striker announced this weekend will be its last in business before permanently closing its doors.
A local hub for live music, diverse menu options and drinks at the restaurant's downstairs Spring Hill Tavern, the Bow Street cornerstone, formerly named The Dolphin Striker, will end a run lasting nearly five decades since its opening in 1974.
Co-owner Chris MacDonald said that he and co-owners Pete Dizoglio, Billy Rogan and Dan Wright came to the conclusion to close the business in recent days after not receiving federal funding from the latest stimulus package.
By Caleb Symons, Sentinel Staff
Local restaurateur Gianluca “Luca” Paris has been tapped to lead the Greater Keene & Peterborough Chamber of Commerce when outgoing President and CEO Phil Suter retires later this summer.
Paris, who owns Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe in downtown Keene, was chosen to succeed Suter after an “extensive search,” the chamber announced Thursday.
By Jason Schreiber, Union Leader Correspondent
EXETER — The historic Exeter Inn will soon reopen to guests after closing to the public 10 months ago to serve as a dormitory for faculty and students from Phillips Exeter Academy during the pandemic.
The hotel at 90 Front St. has announced it will begin welcoming guests once again on July 1.
Epoch Gastropub, which is located at the hotel and is formerly known as the Epoch Restaurant & Bar, will also open its doors to diners at the same time.
By Ryan Lessard, Union Leader Correspondent
Earlier this month, a man walked into the Stumble Inn Bar and Grill in Londonderry and ordered two chili-and-cheese hot dogs, pickle chips, a Coke, a pint of Sam Adams seasonal beer and a Patron Silver tequila.
The tab came to $37.93.
The man left a $16,000 tip — more than 42,000%.
The bar manager checked the amount with the customer, who confirmed it. Given the size, the restaurant’s bank had to verify the amount, too.
By David Brooks, Concord Monitor
After years of effort, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport has finally lured a new budget airline, Florida-based Spirit Airways, and officials hope it marks the start of the airport’s rebirth after a decade of decline.
In particular, city and state officials hope Spirit’s arrival will echo the arrival of Southwest Airlines in 1998, which triggered a period in which Manchester-Boston was the fastest growing airport in the country.
By Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader
A judge on Tuesday ordered seven insurance companies to pay a New Hampshire-based hotel company more than $100 million for losses related to the economic impact of COVID-19.
In granting a motion for summary judgment by Schleicher & Stebbins Hotels LLC and denying the cross-motion filed on behalf of the insurance companies, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John C. Kissinger Jr. found that coverage is triggered where there is a “distinct and demonstrable alteration” to property.
Kissinger rejected the insurance companies’ argument that such changes to property “must be readily perceptible by one of the five senses, be incapable of remediation, or result in dispossession.”
By Jonathan Phelps, New Hampshire Union Leader
THE owner of an Irish pub on Elm Street in Manchester might be seen wearing cowboy boots at his new restaurant across the street.
Jim Pliakos, co-owner of Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, now owns part of Bonfire Country Bar. The bar is known for its rustic decor and whimsical outdoor bar stools, which appear to give customers the rear-end of a cowboy, horse or a woman wearing polka-dot Daisy Dukes. The pictures are often shared on social media for kicks.
Pliakos joined longtime friend Patrick Mills, who has been general manager since it opened, in the partnership. Herget Hospitality Group in Maine previously owned the restaurant.