Steamboat Springs The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve bumping the pay for starting line cooks at Three Wire Bar & Grill in Yampa Valley Regional Airport from $12 per hour to $14 per hour in hopes of attracting more job candidates.
Restaurant Manager “Tami (Fricault) has two, and she needs two more,” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. “What we’re up against is we were offering wages that are competitive with Steamboat, but you have to drive 30 minutes from Steamboat to get to the airport, and because you’re an airport employee, you have to pass a background check. She’s really eager to hire all the cooks she needs.”
Assistant Airport Manager Dean Smith said Three Wire reopened Monday after it closed Nov. 29 because of a water line leak in the restaurant floor after one day of operation.
“I’m so glad to have that taken care of now rather than later in the winter,” Smith said.
Good line cooks apparently are hard to find, and when a Steamboat restaurant owner latches onto one, they don’t let go easily.
“It is difficult to get good line cooks, period,” Rex Brice said. “Lots of people would rather be servers. Fortunately, our (cooks) don’t leave very often.”
Restaurant owners aren’t very eager to talk about how much they pay their cooks. Brice operates four restaurants here and is preparing to open a fifth. He declined to discuss wages, and so did Kelly Landers at Creekside Cafe & Grill in downtown Steamboat.
“We haven’t had to hire one in two to four years,” Landers said. “But I can tell you that the last time we had an opening we had lots of applications, and very few had the experience we needed.”
She said cooks have to be dependable, multitask and work quickly.
County Human Resources Director Chris Hensen said the $14 hourly wage equates to a full-time monthly salary of $2,427.
“Tami is confident that’s in line with what local restaurants are paying for entry-level employees,” Hensen said.
Airport cooks hired on a permanent, full-time basis would be eligible for county health benefits.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com