Shut for long stretches because of the pandemic, Mississippi River Distilling Co. in LeClaire, Iowa, has been counting on a summer rebound.
Crowds have come rushing back. But the distillery and events space can’t find enough workers to serve its customers. And prices for spirits-making commodities, such as corn and glass, have spiraled. So have costs for lumber and construction, making a long-delayed plan to build a new party and wedding venue about 25% more expensive.
“What’s at stake this summer is to try to build enough bank for the off months down the road,” said co-owner Ryan Burchett. An outsider “might see the patios packed and say, ‘Everything is back. We made it.’ But we didn’t yet.”
Referring to the revenue lost to the pandemic, he said: “There’s a hole. It can’t be filled.”
Summer looked like the on-ramp to a big recovery for the leisure and hospitality industry, hard hit by the pandemic and its lockdowns and propped up with billions in government aid. Instead, restaurants, theme parks, hotels and tourist attractions are finding themselves squeezed from multiple sides: rising costs, worker shortages, unpredictable supplies of some foods and, in some cases, demand so overwhelming it’s difficult to avoid leaving customers dissatisfied.