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French Press Café closing due to being short staffed

October 27, 2018 GMT

The French Press Café will be shutting its doors Dec. 20, after only two years of being open downtown.

Kristel Tate, owner of the café located at 511 N. Grant Ave., attributed their closure to not enough employees.

“Part of the reason we’re closing is that we’re short-staffed and can’t find staff,” Tate said.

She said they had tried to utilize other means of finding employees, such as hiring people from shelters, but said that hadn’t been a good experience for them. The French Press Café Facebook account also said they would be closing due to not being busy enough on a consistent basis.

There was some help provided by the Odessa Development Corporation for the café to open, after they awarded Tate a downtown infrastructure improvement grant. The café was the first to receive the grant since the program was authorized in February 2016.

The grant totaled $51,546. Even though they’re closing, Tate and ODC Chairwoman Betsy Triplett-Hurt said they won’t have to pay back any of the money due to its use for infrastructure related to the building.

“I am sick — sick, sick, sick, sick,” Triplett-Hurt said upon hearing the news of the French Press Café’s closure.

Triplett-Hurt said part of the problem with employment is due to the lack of affordable housing, and losing workers to the oilfield. While local government can’t compete with oilfield wages, they can contract out work to be done, she said, but Tate can’t contract out for help with her business.

ODC is currently looking at possible solutions to come up with more reasonably priced housing. They have had meetings since Wednesday with Community Development Strategies to look at the housing shortage.

“It is gathering information, because knowledge is power, and looking at all these collectives and quantifying all of these different comments so that we can see the potential solutions,” Triplett-Hurt said. “And I don’t have those answers, but I do know if we all get information and get it in an orderly fashion, it will spark a lot of good ideas.”

One of the biggest sparks behind downtown revitalization in Odessa has been Sondra Eoff who, along with her husband Toby Eoff, is investing $7 million into the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center downtown in hopes of revitalizing the area.

“We’re always concerned about finding the amount of employees we’re looking for,” Eoff said. “Of course, it’s always a concern, but we’re fully aware because we’ve been an employer in Odessa for many years.”

Eoff said she and her husband were very sad about the French Press Café closing and wish Tate the best in her future.

“Of course, we wish they could have stayed open, but we understand how difficult it is to start a business,” she said.