Reston Town Center specialty treat shops in need of workers

Dessert and smoothie shops in Reston Town Center are in need of workers, with one still keeping hours scaled back due to staffing needs.

One store remains operating at a reduced-hours schedule: Pitango, which makes gelato and sorbets, is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We would like to be open daily, from early morning for coffee customers to late evening for gelato,” owner Noah Dan said in an email. “We are actively seeking new employees but it has been very slow-going.”

The family-owned business looks to begin to open daily as soon as possible, it says on its website. A hiring sign and notices to customers are posted on its entrance.

The notices state that it will return to daily operations as soon as it hires and trains new employees, and they thank customers for supporting the business.

Other shops reported similar issues. Ice-cream customers may have noticed Ben and Jerry’s temporarily reduce its schedule, but a manager said a shift lead will bring its hours back to normal. It currently has around six employees, though, which was less than the dozen workers or so it had last year.

At Playa Bowls, store manager Isabella Heffel noted the location’s front door has a sign encouraging people to apply and specifically asks for those with daytime availability.

She said the store has connected with colleges but has found the hiring to be tough. The store has around 30 workers, though, allowing it to maintain a full schedule, Heffel said.

The unemployment rate for 16 and 17-year-olds, seasonally adjusted, had been improving since January, reaching as low as 8.9% as of May 1 before rising to 9.6%, 9.7% and 11.6% in coming months. It eventually landed on 11.4% as of Sept. 1, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Like the rest of the country and world, teen workers weren’t immune to reductions in the workforce during the pandemic, being especially hit last year starting in March as restaurants and retail stores closed due to state shutdowns.

But it’s still one of the best times in decades to be a teenage worker. Prior to this year, unemployment for the age group hasn’t been this low since 1957.

The restaurant industry has faced a labor shortage that has put pressure on an already strained segment of the economy — not just teenage workers.

A Goldman Sachs survey from last month found that 87% of small businesses are finding it difficult to recruit qualified candidates for open positions, and most say their workforce challenges have worsened since before the pandemic.

The survey, involving 1,145 participants from across the U.S., found Black-owned small businesses have also been slower to recover to pre-pandemic employment levels.

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