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Event venues share challenges for holiday party bookings

Studio 324
Studio 324(KTTC)
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 9:44 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – At the Hubble House in Mantorville some seats remain empty.

“We’re still not at 100 percent capacity like we normally would be in the past,” said Alaina Pappas-Mitchell, Hubble House manager.

She said it’s because of a staff shortage.

“Normally in December, we would probably seat about 600 people on a Saturday night, and we’re probably going to do more like 400 on a Saturday night,” Pappas- Mitchell said.

The Hubble House’s limit for holiday parties has also been downsized.

”We’re only letting one group come in,” Pappas- Mitchell said.

She said staff can only handle one party at a time.

The restaurant is trying to keep party sizes below 20 people while serving individual tables of customers.

“We can’t have everyone come in at 6 o’clock. The kitchen couldn’t keep up. So we do have to spread tables out, and that helps us do more groups, and we have reservations going all night long with them,” Pappas- Mitchell said

The Hubble House is booked for the season and usually accepts bookings a year in advance but because of how unpredictable the pandemic is, it began booking within the last few months.

Meanwhile, at Studio 324 in downtown Rochester, staffing shortages aren’t the issue, it’s that fewer people are booking events.

“Typically we’d see a lot of Christmas parties. We’d probably be doing like eight to 10 a month. Right now, we’re averaging about two a month,” said Shawn Fagen, Studio 324 Owner.

His space can fit about 113 people.

“We kinda like to say it’s an East Coast art gallery-type feel to it,” Fagan said.

He said even wedding receptions have been lower at his venue, with 40 to 50 people, compared to an average of around 80.

“Until the numbers are back down, and people are more comfortable to gather in big groups. We’re just not seeing it come back quite yet,” Fagan said.

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