Denver International Airport held a concessions job fair this weekend hoping to see 5,000 eager prospective hires. But only about 100 people showed up, underscoring the staffing struggles companies across the country continue to face.
"We've got a very lofty goal to see about 5,000 people show up today," Denver Concessionaires Association (DCA) President Dennis Deslongchamp told ABC 7, who helped organize the event in the United Club at Empower Field at Mile High.
Only about 100 people ultimately attended the Saturday event, Deslongchamp said.
The job fair was intended to help fill about 1,000 openings at the airport for jobs at stores, restaurants and other businesses. Those openings also need to be filled sooner than later as concessions will return to normal operating hours starting Nov. 1.
"We've got anything from entry-level positions all the way up to top executive management available out here," Deslongchamp said.
Skyport Hospitality has more than 150 openings to fill alone.
"We are at such a staffing deficit that we'd be grateful for just five, but we're looking to hire over 150," Elisa Lalama, HR director for Skyport Hospitality, said.
"We were expecting the masses to come knocking on our door," Concessions International director of operations Derik Mortenson added.
Concessions International has eight concession locations, including restaurants like Chick-Fil-A, at the airport, and is looking to fill 38 jobs. But only two people applied, ABC 7 reported.
"These are very brick-and-mortar jobs, brick-and-mortar positions, and there's just a change in what's possible now today to earn an income," Mortenson added. "It's just tough on brick-and-mortar operations to fill the positions that once ... had stacks of applications."
The job fair featured representatives from nearly 170 concessions, and Deslongchamp said he wanted to give prospective hires the chance to get career resources and even the coronavirus vaccine. He added that the airport will continue holding the job fairs, despite the low turnout.
"We're hoping to make this an annual event," he said.
Other retail stores and restaurants across the country have struggled to find employees in recent months, leading some to close up shop permanently or scale back operating hours.
One restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, announced on Facebook last week that it was permanently shutting its doors after 46 years in business due to not being able to find staff.
Another restaurant owner in New Jersey, Jason Kramer of the Doo-Wop Drive-In, said on Fox News last month that he has struggled filling positions and blamed extended unemployment benefits for a lack of willing workers.
"It got worse. We struggled all summer long, and I feel bad for every restaurant owner, bar owner. It's just bad," Kramer told "Fox & Friends" in September.