To the dismay of nighthawks, The Palace Cafe has locked its doors the past three weeks for the night shift on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Dan and Kim Brunette have retired after five years working the night shift that has become so familiar to Hillsdale students. Without the Brunettes, Palace owner Leslie Meredith has struggled to keep the night shift open.
“It’s weird to go during the day. You have to go at night,” junior Lauren Schlientz said. “The only time I crave waffles is at 2:00 a.m.”
Dan Brunette said that he was sad to leave the Palace and is already missing the late night regulars.
“Thanks to each and everyone of you for stopping in and sharing your stories and lives with us over the past five years up at the Palace on midnights,” Dan Brunette said. “We have met some of the most interesting people in our lives among you college kids. Through your eyes, we’ve been able to see places from all over the world. We have shared a lot of laughs, and made some great memories. If you see us out and about in the ’dale, give us a holler.”
The Brunette’s retirement is only one of a slew of recent employee departures. Meredith said that seven employees have quit in the last two weeks. This was no organized exodus, she said. the workers left for a variety of reasons including relocation, job opportunities, and personal and family crises, according to Meredith.
Meredith said she is having trouble finding help.
“The workforce is unbelievable,” Meredith said. “There is no one.”
Last month, Meredith spent nearly three hours at a local employment center. She only spoke to two potential employees. She ascribes this dearth of workers to the community’s stagnation.
“This town is too full of welfare,” Meredith said. “People would rather lie around doing nothing than work for an honest wage. They’re content with that kind of life, with not going anywhere. The people just don’t want to work.”
Further, she blames the millennial mindset.
“I know I’m generalizing, but millennials expect a ton of money to start,” Meredith said. “They don’t understand that you have to work your way up. They expect $11 an hour to wash dishes. That’s not worth it for me.”
Still, on Saturday night after President’s Ball, hungry college students were disappointed when they showed up to find The Palace closed.
“It’s too bad. We would have gone after President’s Ball,” said junior Rosemary Pynes. “Now there’s no place open at night.”
Meredith said she loves Hillsdale students and would love to serve them breakfast at 2 a.m. But until she can find help, students are left to waffle-less weekends.
“I just want to eat an Empire Bowl at 2:30 in the morning, and I’m confused why I can’t,” said senior Zoe Harness.