The population of Denver has been steadily growing over the past few years, but not enough of its new inhabitants want to work in the restaurant industry.
The reason? The higher-paying jobs are in weed, man.
New eateries are popping up all over Denver to meet the increased demand of residents and tourists, but restaurant owners claim they’re having a hard time filling their kitchens with able-bodied workers, Bloomberg reports.
“Our work force is being drained by the pot industry,” Denver restaurateur Bryan Dayton told the site.
“Enter the weed business, which pays $22 an hour with full benefits,” added Dayton. “You can come work in a kitchen for (me) for eight hours a day, in a hot kitchen. It’s a stressful life. Or you can go sort weed in a climate-controlled greenhouse. It’s a pretty obvious choice.”
So why don’t restaurant owners just pay a little more? Quite simply, the marijuana industry can generally afford to pay workers at various levels much higher wages, they argue.
In 2016 alone, Fortune reports that the Colorado marijuana industry brought in over $1 billion in revenue — as well as $150 million in tax revenue for the state — but dispensaries and growhouses don’t have the same kinds of margins or overhead as the dining industry, say restaurateurs.
“If you make 10 percent profit in the restaurant business, you are in the hall of fame as a great operator,” explained award-winning sommelier and Denver restaurateur Bobby Stuckey to Bloomberg. “Compare that to most other businesses — and presumably the legal pot industry — where if you did 20 percent profit, you would be fired.”
Stuckey, too, claimed that marijuana dispensaries — which supply strong strains of pot and THC-infused edibles — are