The most recent casualty of Jackson Hole’s continuing housing shortage is a swanky restaurant located at the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Resort officials said Wednesday that Couloir Restaurant won’t open this summer because the resort just can’t find enough employees to keep the place operating up to the standards the company has set.
“We’re in the same struggle as the rest of the community,” said Scott Horn, chief administrative officer.
The decision to close Couloir came despite its popularity, built on the gondola ride and the big view from the top, along with a menu overseen by chef Wes Hamilton. Couloir customers were most recently paying $95 for a prix fixe dinner, or $155 with wine included.
The other restaurants at the top of the Bridger Gondola will run normally, as will private events previously scheduled at Couloir, Horn said.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the valley’s housing shortage is beginning to hit businesses hard.
The resort has tried to think outside of the box in the lead- up to this summer. In May resort officials announced a program that gives any Jackson Hole or Teton Valley, Idaho, homeowner a 15-day ski pass in exchange for housing a resort employee.
Another program is aimed at getting teachers to spend their summer breaks working for the resort. In exchange teachers would receive unlimited skiing through Dec. 19 and a seven-day ski pass after that.
There were other factors that contributed to the Couloir’s closing, Horn said. For one, private event business is on the rise, which made closing the Couloir for regular business hours more palatable. Horn also pointed to a nationwide shortage in food and beverage workers.
But even considering all the factors, the toughest obstacle is that there aren’t as many workers coming into the valley because there aren’t places to live, he said.
Businesses around town have faced similar challenges in recent summers. Small business owners have had to work long hours themselves in lieu of hired help. Others have had to reduce hours of operation.
Couloir’s closing comes at the beginning of what could prove to be one of the busiest summers ever for Jackson Hole in terms of traffic, housing and tourists.
The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and tourists are flocking to Grand Teton and Yellowstone in droves.
The number of visitors to Yellowstone has seen a 60 percent increase in the first few weeks of the 2016 season, according to Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.
Meanwhile, workers in Jackson Hole continue to the feel the squeeze of rent increases and the ever-tightening housing market.
Most recently, tenants were booted out of the 56-unit Virginian Village Apartments to make way for renovations.
Town of Jackson and Teton County officials have backed a proposed increase in general sales tax to help address the valley’s housing and transportation issues.
Voters will have the final say on the proposal in the general election Nov. 8, but some people are pushing for more urgent measures.
In May the Jackson Town Council discussed the possibility of creating a temporary worker campground but ultimately decided to pass on the idea for now.