Short-staffed restaurants feel Balloon Fiesta demand

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Thousands of tourists are bringing an economic shot in the arm for New Mexico, but with the increase in business comes more stress – especially with the continued worker shortage.

Albuquerque’s Old Town is busy with tour buses and out-of-towners. People are finding the balloons at the Balloon Fiesta but finding a table at a restaurant is a little trickier.

"We’re on a waiting list at a couple different places, whichever calls us first – then we’ll be there,” said Ginger Prichard, Kansas resident.

"People get very frustrated and want to eat and run. It’s not going to happen right now,” said Marie Coleman, owner of Church Street Café.

Coleman has owned the Church Street Café in Old Town since the 1990s.

The line was out the door before they opened and only grew into the lunch hour and she said she’s running with about half the number of servers – and even fewer in the kitchen.

"I’m so thankful that you’re all back, but please be patient."

Adding to the pressure – three other restaurants in Old Town have closed and will remain that way during the busiest week of the year.

KOB 4 reached out to the New Mexico Restaurant Association to try and get a broader view on the industry, but they said restaurants are so busy during Fiesta – they haven’t had a chance to tell the association how they are faring.