Staffing woes hit local restaurants hard

The dining room at Brasserie Zentral

The dining room at Brasserie Zentral

Chalk up another casualty in the Twin Cities’ restaurant scene to the widespread employee shortage. Brasserie Zentral, located in the Soo Line Building in downtown Minneapolis, served its last Sunday brunch and dinner this past weekend. Owners Russell and Desta Klein announced that beginning in October, Brasserie Zentral will no longer be serving on Sundays. “Staffing has become a crisis-level problem for Twin Cities restaurants,” said Desta Klein. By shifting to a five-day work week (they were already closed on Mondays), the restaurant will cut down on staffing needs. “We simply cannot find enough qualified people,” she said.

It seems that the Twin Cities' nationally acclaimed and fast-growing restaurant scene is making it harder than ever to find – and keep – talented and experienced staff. Brasserie Zentral isn’t the first local restaurant to cut operating hours due to an employee shortage. In August, Pig Ate My Pizza announced they were cutting back to being open just four days a week after ads for chefs went unanswered. Kim Bartmann, who opened her first restaurant, Bryant-Lake Bowl, in 1993 and who runs a mini empire of popular restaurants that includes Café Barbette, Third Bird, and Red Stag, among others, has also expressed frustration with searching for chefs for her restaurants.

While announcing the cutback in hours at Brasserie Zentral, the Kleins said that their revamped Foreign Legion, now focusing on pizza and pasta, will add Sunday service starting this weekend. Take advantage of the Sunday Date Night special deal: Get a pizza, two salads, and a crème brulee to share for a mere $20.

The couple also announced they have sold Café Zentral, the skyway incarnation of Brasserie Zentral, to longtime employee Robert Whitney, who will reopen the space sometime this month with a focus on world street food.