WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - - Many reached out to KSN news regarding a post from Starlite Drive-In, the drive-in movie theater that's been in Wichita since the 1970's, regarding staffing struggles to the point of Starlite wondering if they could even open their doors this weekend.
Starlite employs workers on a seasonal basis, as they are open only Friday and Saturday during the school year, with more hours during May, June, July and August.
"I have limited staff. If I lose one or two, it could put a big damper on the operations and it's hard to find good help now because we're only part-time, we're only seasonal," president of Starlite, Chuck Bucinski said.
Bucinski admits, beyond a couple employees who have worked for 20+ years at the drive-in, he employs many teenagers and college kids. They start at minimum wage which can be hard to compete with for other jobs teens seek, like McDonald's and Walmart.
"I do give bonuses and raises throughout the season if you're a hard worker. You do your job, you do what's asked, that's kind of a chance to earn more money working for me," Bucinski said.
A Facebook post earlier in the week indicated Starlite would not be able to open this week, but after a couple interviews on Thursday afternoon later, Bucinski hired several employees and will be back in business this weekend.
Jeremy Hill, director of the WSU Center for Economic Development and Business Research says more 16 to 19-year-olds are in the workforce compared to recent years but much, much lower than it was in 2008. At the US level, youth employment is slightly below where it was last year in March, at the last available data. However, 16 to 19-year-olds are more likely to be employed in Wichita or Kansas than the rest of the US.