Utah Stories

The Difficulty of Finding Reliable Employees in Utah Restaurants

Rondinelli and Feldman recounted their personal stories of how they got into the restaurant business, with Rondinelli starting his pizza restaurant due to a lack of real Italian food options, and Feldman opening his deli after leaving the biotech industry. They both emphasize the importance of maintaining quality and authenticity in their respective cuisines.


In a recent episode of Utah Stories, host Richard Markosian delves into a pressing issue faced by local restaurants in Utah—finding reliable staff for entry-level positions. Markosian invites two prominent restaurateurs, Mike Feldman and Richie Rondinelli, to share their experiences and insights on the matter. Both Feldman, known for his authentic Jewish deli, and Rondinelli, whose pizza shop is acclaimed for its East Coast style, have encountered challenges in recruiting dedicated employees. This podcast  highlights the difficulties faced by the restaurant industry, sheds light on the changing workforce trends, and explores potential contributing factors to the shortage of committed workers.

“Yeah, I always say you must apply in person. No resumes. And some people really want a job but have no experience. I do give them a break. The other ones just come in, ask for a lot of money, and never show up,” Rondinelli said. 

A Struggle to Find Reliable Staff

The episode opens with Markosian addressing the recurring issue faced by local restaurants—difficulty in hiring reliable staff. Many establishments have had to either close their doors or reduce operating hours due to the lack of dependable employees. Feldman and Rondinelli echo the sentiment, expressing their frustration in finding committed workers for their businesses.

“You can find people who’ll work for you, but then you find some beers missing, or they go back into the bathroom, and you find small bottles of Jim Beam or whatever in there, and you can tell by their behavior, their ability to focus and get things done, that they’re not quite all there,” Feldman said.

Changing Workforce Trends and Parenting Styles

The discussion delves into the changing landscape of the workforce, particularly among young adults. Feldman and Rondinelli express concerns about the declining workforce participation among able-bodied individuals aged 18 to 60. They speculate that the shift in parenting styles might be a contributing factor, leading to a lack of independence and work ethic in the up-and-coming generation. They observe that today’s youth seems less interested in entry-level positions and are increasingly reluctant to take on challenging jobs.

“So they’re going out to their car, taking a couple of hits, or drinking. One guy had a cooler. He asked everybody else, ‘Why don’t you take a break? Let’s have one. I got cold ones in the car.’ Then I told him, ‘You can’t go out anymore.’ So what did he do? He brought the beer in and put it under the counter where he made the pie,” Rondinelli said. 

Impact of Covid and Flexibility in Work

The restaurateurs also discuss the impact of Covid on the workforce. They highlight how the pandemic has changed the dynamics of work, with more people seeking flexible work-from-home arrangements. However, this newfound flexibility may not align with the needs of industries like restaurants, where in-person presence is essential. The pandemic also led to some workforce migration, as certain industries experienced a shortage of workers due to health concerns and lack of access to healthcare.

Parental Involvement and Work Ethic

Feldman and Rondinelli emphasize the role of parenting in developing work ethic and independence in today’s youth. They note that the level of parental involvement has changed, with some parents being overly involved in their children’s lives, “helicopter parenting” as it is often called, is preventing young adults from learning how to solve problems and handle challenges independently.

Authenticity vs. Automation

The conversation takes a turn towards the impact of automation on the restaurant industry. While some pizza places have embraced automation for faster production, Feldman and Rondinelli emphasize the importance of maintaining authenticity and craftsmanship in their respective cuisines. They agree that the demand for high-quality, authentic food still exists and appeals to discerning customers willing to pay more for an exceptional dining experience.


The Utah Stories episode sheds light on the critical issue of staffing challenges faced by local restaurants. Feldman and Rondinelli provide valuable insights into the changing workforce trends and the impact of parenting styles on the work ethic of the younger generation. As the restaurant industry navigates these workforce challenges, maintaining authenticity and quality in food offerings remains a key focus for passionate restaurateurs like Feldman and Rondinelli.

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