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Local restaurants lose staff to Hard Rock temporary casino

The pandemic has caused several staffing issues for businesses all over the state but now bars and restaurants may have another problem on their hands.
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:18 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford’s new temporary casino provides opportunities for many, but problems for a few. Bars and restaurants experience staffing shortages as Hard Rock recruits employees from all over the Stateline.

The pandemic has caused several staffing issues for businesses all over the state but now bars and restaurants may have another problem on their hands.

John Conforti opened Mr. C’s Family Restaurant in 1999, in all his years, he’s never lost employees like he has in the last few weeks.

“It’s been really tough and I don’t wanna own a place that is just to go, I’m here to pour coffee and meet regular customers and pat people on the back and people coming to tell me stories, I mean that’s what this business is, it’s a family restaurant,” Conforti said.

Conforti has lost two waitresses, both to the temporary Hard Rock Casino, employees he treated like family.

“Would you rather be the big fish in the little sea or the little fish in the big sea, and working at Hard Rock Café, they’re going to have lots of employees and working a place like this I have 20 employees and my key employees I treat them as well as I can,” Conforti said.

Other Rockford restaurants also anticipate changes once the casino is open for business.

“They’re gonna definitely be drawing in majority of the crowds, it’s gonna be a lot harder for us to have the crowds from that,” said Jasmin Bilich, General Manager at Murphy’s Pub and Grill. “Do we see that we’re gonna see some kind of influx? We’re actually anticipating that the tourism that’s gonna be brought to the area that’s what were gonna be feeding off of.”

But, it may not be all negative.

“With the casino coming in I think there could be some kind of a relationship that could be brought up from that which could help bolster the rest of the businesses and local businesses around,” Bilich said.

Regardless of the new casino, both Mr. C’s and Murphy’s are experiencing staffing issues just like several other bars and restaurants in the Stateline area.

The temporary Hard Rock Casino is still hiring employees and we are still waiting on an official opening day for the casino.

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