Black Hills businesses struggle to keep up with tourism crowd

Is there such a thing-- as too much business?
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Business is booming in the Black Hills as many owners say they are seeing plenty of visitors strolling around ready to buy.

But is there such a thing-- as too much business?

Sizzling up hamburgers for a line of orders...and yet it's a problem.

Peggy Janecek, the owner of Peggy’s Place in Keystone, said despite COVID-19 this is one of the busiest years she’s ever seen in the past 13 years.

But the pandemic is the reason why she can’t handle the load of customers walking in.

“This year it’s just like oh we can’t do what we would normally do for you and that’s what’s sad. And I don’t like to turn anybody away,” she said.

But the owners had to. People are added to a waiting list even though the restaurant is only half full.

“Every time somebody can’t come in and be served its money that we lose on our income. That’s money we pay for our workers as their wages. Money that would pay our bills with. So we are watching money walk down the street,” Dan Janecek said.

Not enough manpower is the problem.

Normally, Peggy's Place opens around Memorial Day weekend with a staff of nearly 30 people.

But they ended up opening in early June instead with only 10 employees.

Like most seasonal businesses, Peggy’s Place did not receive any PPE loans from the government as they were not open at the start of the pandemic and only operate for a few months out of the year.

Additionally, without J1 student visa workers to work the summer months, the Janeceks said they are relying more on local help this year.

All states have extended their unemployment benefits because of the ongoing coronavirus, except South Dakota.

The Janeceks hope this could help acquire more hands-on deck.

“We are willing to pay more money well above minimum wage to get employees but we can’t get them,” Peggy said.

Peggy said she will start at $10 but will adjust based on experience and include pay raises based on performance.

So until then, the restaurant's hours are shortened as they figure out how to make up the 50 percent loss due to the pandemic.

And this year, operating till the third week of September, like usual, may not happen.

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