Business Monthly

The 2024 Food Issue

Food industry’s tight workforce slowly loosens; in Bigfork, The Sando Co. is rising to the occasion; plus 'Ask the Expert' with Jalisco Cantina owner Dave Pike

By Beacon Staff
Classic Italian sub from the The Sando Co. in Bigfork on Feb. 22, 2024. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon


Food Industry’s Tight Workforce Slowly Loosens as Flathead Business Owners Adapt

Restaurant managers are seeing more applicants and a lower turnover rate as the unemployment rate slowly rises and employers change their business models to accommodate a shorter staff

Avery Andersen works at Montana Coffee Traders in Kalispell on Feb. 27, 2024. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In the winter of 2021 when the shortage of food service workers in the Flathead Valley was at its peak, Backslope Brewing owner Carla Fisher slashed business hours, she cut the menu and she hired every applicant that walked through her door, knowing she might not see them work more than a few shifts. Read more



In Bigfork, The Sando Co. is Rising to the Occasion

At Bigfork’s newest sandwich shop, it all starts with freshly baked bread

Prosciutto caprese sub from The Sando Co. in Bigfork on Feb. 22, 2024. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The first loaf of homemade sourdough that Jacob O’Brien pulled out of the oven was almost perfect. The ones that came after? Not so much. But O’Brien, who started with sourdough, didn’t give up, and eventually honed his self-taught baking skills to the point where he and his wife Candace scaled up their bread production and started selling loaves at farmer’s markets in the Flathead Valley. Read more



Ask the Expert: Dave Pike

The owner of Jalisco Cantina and Tupelo Grille answers questions about the tight labor market and the challenges facing the restaurant business

After opening Jalisco Cantina, a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in San Diego in 2017, Dave Pike opened a second restaurant in Whitefish three years later and has since added to his roster of businesses. Read more



This Month’s Market Metrics

Gas Prices (Feb. 27)
Hawaii (highest) – $4.67/gal | Mississippi (lowest) – $2.81/gal | Montana – $3.16/gal

Glacier Park International Airport Passenger Stats (January)
Departures 2024 27,890 | 2023 30,846 Arrivals 2024 25,967 | 2023 27,315

Unemployment Rates (December)
U.S. 3.7% | Montana 3.2% | Flathead County 4.7%

Flathead County Residential Sales (January)
2024 77 | 2023 87 | 2022 131 | 2021 161


Financial Corner: What Should You do With Your Tax Refund?

Your tax refund can be a valuable asset — so use it wisely

It’s almost that time of year when many people start receiving their tax refunds. If you get one, what will you do with it? Read more