We were going to eat at Max and Erma’s last night, but it was swamped with Aberdeen promgoers, so we went to Roma downtown, which had its own share of fineried youth but also a couple no-wait tables.
Wrong with this picture:
- Prom should be in May.
- Prom dinner should require silverware as surely as promwear requires bowties and boutonnieres.
- Prom dates should pack a fine downtown Italian restaurant before there is any tux-and-gown line-up at any burger joint in town.
Quizzically, my local (paywalled) paper complains that not enough kids went to Max and Erma’s… to work and keep the local franchise from closing:
Everyone looks forward to new restaurants coming to town.
However, few seem to want to work at them.
That was one of the reasons Max & Erma’s co-owner Mark McNeary gave about why he and the other owners decided to close the restaurant. He spoke with the American News earlier this week, stating that keeping a full staff has been an issue for a long time.
…But it seems fewer and fewer students are taking advantage of the numerous employment opportunities in the area.
If we want new restaurants — or any new business, for that matter — to come to town, we need people to work at them.
…So encourage your child to take that job serving food. Or washing cars. Or scrubbing toilets, planting flowers or delivering newspapers.
Take that job for the betterment of your community.
And the betterment of yourself [editorial board, “Young Workers Are Vital to Our Community [paywall],” Aberdeen American News, 2019.04.06].
Hold on: we’re not talking about joining the Peace Corps or becoming a teacher. The only people who say they wait tables to serve their community are weisenheimers. Work is work, and work is necessary and good, but work is not our prom date; there’s no need to dress it up as something it ain’t.
South Dakota’s labor shortage does pose an obstacle to keeping a busines afloat in South Dakota. But money talks, and blaming labor walks. If you’re making a good enough product, people will pay a fair price for it, fair enough, we should expect, to pay workers enough to keep making that product. If the pay for that work isn’t enough to entice workers to surrender their valuable time to your business desires, the problem may not lie with the workers. The problem may lie in your unwillingness to pay enough to make the job and the sacrifice worth your target labor pool’s while.
To suggest that young people bear the blame for grown-ups’ business closing makes a lot of assumptions. It seems just as plausible that the blame for the loss of a restaurant and 55 mostly part-time jobs rests with the grown-ups running the place. Maybe they overgambled on drawing business to the northwest side of town. Maybe the casual/burger dining market in Aberdeen is saturated.
Or maybe no one is to blame: running a business, ordering meat and asparagus, scheduling part-timers, keeping up with health code—that’s all hard work, and the three owners—Jim Thares, Mark McNeary, and Joe Hawkins, who all have important, necktie-wearing positions at Primrose Retirement—may have quite reasonably decided that nine years of restaurateuring on top of their full-time day jobs was enough.
We’ll try again next weekend, Max and Erma’s final weekend, to catch the end of Endless Fries (I’ve actually never taken them up on that: their burgers and one serving of fries have been good enough for me every time). But if Max and Erma’s is packed again for its last couple days, we won’t blame young people for denying us one more Garbage Burger. Kids will take their prom dates to eat where they want… and they’ll choose to work where they want, if the market offers a fair wage for their labor.
(Hmm… Frederick’s prom is April 13… hey! Frederick kids! Take your dates to Roma Ristorante Italiano downtown! Your selfies will look twice as classy… and if you insist on a familiar dish instead of Roma’s exquisite pasta and asparagus, you can order a really good pizza!)