On paper, T.J. Semanchin’s Wonderstate Coffee business seems more productive than ever; with fewer workers generating higher sales at the company’s three cafes and wholesale roastery in Wisconsin.
Under the hood, however, the cafe business is about 25% short-staffed amid a tight labor market, and employees are stressed.
Semanchin has cut opening hours and started closing some days to ease the load; and is considering longer shutdowns during the winter lull. The full-service menu is to include more pre-made items which means the end of the signature breakfast sandwich in at least one of the locations.
The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 coincided with a surge in productivity that led to predictions of a golden age of U.S. Innovation and growth, with better technology, improved systems, and pandemic-related trends like work-from-home allowing employees to do more with less.
Two-and-a-half years later, the narrative is more somber.