COLLEGE STATION, Texas — College Station will see pre-pandemic numbers flood Kyle Field Saturday as the Aggies suit up for the first game of the season, but a big question remains... are local businesses like bars and restaurants ready?
Or are recent labor setbacks still proving to be a challenge?
"We are all working a little harder than maybe we are used to, but hanging in there," Wade Beckman a Bryan business owner said.
Aggie football returns this weekend.
"We are pumped," Beckman said. "We are excited. We know the world is excited. Everybody is excited about coming back. We are a little nervous... We haven't seen those kinds of sales in I guess two years."
If you ask these business owners if their teams are ready they'll say they sure hope so, and even if Kent State isn't a big-time opponent for the Aggies, it doesn't matter.
"You kind of expect a few less people," said Beckmen. "But with the pent-up demand and the Aggies poised to do so much good, I think people are just going to come out in droves."
As staffed and as prepped as he and his three restaurants can be, Beckmen said staffing and dependability are still obstacles.
"I have probably hired 15-20 people in the last 4 weeks that actually don't even work here," said Beckmen. "Them coming to interviews is a challenge, them coming to orientation is a challenge, and them staying is a challenge.
Overall it's a great place to hire [with] Texas A&M, the students, and the awesome community. We are still very blessed to have the people that we have."
For Beckman and for a typical summer in a college town, they go from 30 employees to 75 by August.
"This year we were a lot more proactive," Beckman said. "We started in July. It's taken much longer. I would say you hire roughly 10 people to get one to two people that are going to stay and add and contribute to the business."
The same goes for other restaurants in the area.
"On Aggie game days, we typically will have 10-12 people staffed per shift," Rolando Gonzalez, a College Station business owner, said. "Once the game starts, it's 4 people unless it slows down completely. But this year we don't have 12 people staffed currently, so that's definitely a problem. It's just a matter of working together and having all of the staff in a relaxed environment and mentally prepared for what's coming."
Hiring is a process that is taking a little bit longer for more shops, in comparison to previous years. For The Tacobar, they rely a ton on catering during football season.
"It's really hard to say no because that one catering could pay your rent or pay a week of labor," Gonzalez said.
But saying yes could mean ... a delivery might take a little longer.
"Just trying to find a balance and talk as a team," Gonzalez shared. "I am pretty sure we will do a good job."
A weekend full of learning for so many as the new season starts.
"I am excited for the fact that football is back," Gonzalez said. "Excited to have our town full [and] see traffic, see people ready for a full game weekend. It's not just game day, but Friday and Sunday."
And if anyone is looking for a job, Gonzalez said to make sure to apply.
"Call us at (979) 704- 6636," said Gonzalez. "We will be more than happy to talk with you."