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Kalispell cafe temporarily closes due to staffing shortage

Daily Inter Lake | April 13, 2021 12:00 PM

Montana Coffee Traders' Kalispell cafe has closed indefinitely due to a lack of available workers, the coffee chain announced Tuesday.

The business's three other locations in Whitefish, Columbia Falls and along U.S. 93 remain open. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the chain's founding in the Flathead Valley.

"We made this difficult choice because we are unable to find enough staff to maintain consistent operations in this location," the company said in a news release.

The announcement offered no timeline for the Kalispell location to reopen but said Montana Coffee Traders does "plan on maintaining a Kalispell presence in the future."

A longstanding workforce shortage in the area came to a breaking point for Montana Coffee Traders this month.

"As we approach the summer of 2021, we are seeing the consistent and exciting growth of business, but with that growth comes the need for more staff," the business said. "Our best path forward in anticipation of the busy summer is to boost that support for our current well-staffed cafes and take a break from the Kalispell location."

The announcement cited a multitude of causes for the staffing crisis, including a lack of affordable housing and a shortage of international employees.

With an influx of new residents in the valley this year, the working population for food-service businesses like Montana Coffee Traders hasn't kept pace with increased demand. Partially as a result of these tensions, the business noted food-service workers appear to be leaving the industry at a much higher rate than before.

"We are grateful to the Kalispell community for all their support and look forward to returning," the business said.

Montana Coffee Traders first opened its Kalispell location in 1991, serving coffee and a limited food menu. The full-service kitchen was later implemented in the late ’90s.

In 2017 it moved from a location on West Center Street to the storefront at 111 S. Main St.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com