Restaurants that struggled and survived during the pandemic face a new challenge: hiring. | Local News
On April 16, Ken Donkersloot, who last year bought Tarpy Roadhouse, Rio Grill and Montrio Bistro, made a job offer for a woman to work as an event coordinator at Tarpy and its parent company, Coastal Roots Hospitality.
This is where things get risky.
The offer was made in the morning. In the afternoon, the woman had options, in the form of an offer from a competing restaurant.
Donkersloot, co-owner of Coastal Roots with his wife, Mona Calis, spends a lot of time and energy looking at the full benefits of his business and thinking about how to sweeten it to give their restaurants an edge. When he heard about the competing offer, he sweated it for a few hours. (The woman, in the end, decided to come to Coastal Roots.)
“It is very difficult to make people safe. You almost don’t want them to go out without signing a job offer, ”says Donkersloot. “It’s really competitive. We started to say, “Let’s put things in place that make people want to work for us.” “
Between Coastal Roots’ three restaurants, and between the front of the house – waiters, hostesses and others – and the back of the house – line cooks, dishwashers and more – Donkersloot has 10 positions to fill. He has a huge list of measures they use to sweeten the pot, including free telemedicine appointments for every employee; a flexible expense account to help employees pay for health care costs; health care plans with different levels of employee contributions; paid language training courses – for all languages, not just English – and an educational assistance program.
Meanwhile, Coastal Roots is also moving to a program where kitchen workers, who normally don’t receive tips, are included in the tip. The biggest hiring challenge right now is in the kitchen – a peer from San Diego recently told Donkersloot they have to pay line cooks between $ 18 and $ 20 an hour, and Coastal Hospitality is already there.
This is the lament being heard in the county – and the country – right now. Last year, restaurateurs and their employees were hit by closures in the event of a pandemic. This year, as restaurants reopen for on-site dining, they are hammered by a lack of employees.
Ted Balestreri Jr., vice president of hospitality at Cannery Row Co. and a member of the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association, describes a ripple effect that is happening and will be for some time: securing talent will cost more, and menu prices rise due to the higher salaries that restaurants have to pay to obtain this talent. Some restaurateurs who have been fired will choose to remain unemployed and some have left the industry altogether.
“Candidates survey employers asking, ‘Is this the environment I want to work in, what are the pay and benefits? “Says Balestreri Jr ..” The tables have changed now, and it’s a big challenge as we move towards full capacity. Especially when events return and banquets return, we will need a bigger well to draw from.
A quick read of the advertisements in this document alone has a dozen positions open in food and beverage operations at Monterey Plaza. On the employment website Indeed.com, many job postings for Peninsula restaurants carry the slogan “emergency hire”.
Workers who have left the industry completely may have been attracted by lower stress levels and similar or even higher wages in other jobs. Some, but not all, continue to perceive higher unemployment rates, which the federal government has used to get people out of work during the pandemic, and which are expected to continue until mid-September.
But as restaurateurs and restaurant managers share their stories of hiring woes, there is legislation in place at the County Board of Supervisors and Sacramento to ensure that workers laid off due to the pandemic are urged to come back first.
Known as the “right of recall,” Governor Gavin Newsom on April 16 signed an amendment to the state’s labor code that requires employers to offer laid-off employees specific job information as soon as they open and to offer those jobs to them. dismissed employees based on a preference system.
At the county level, meanwhile, District 1 supervisor Luis Alejo introduced a county right of recall for restaurant and hotel workers that could allow laid-off workers to sue in Superior Court s ‘they are fired for rehiring. On April 20, after hours of controversial discussions in which the interests of workers directly clashed with the interests of business and the hospitality industry, a much weaker order was passed 4-1, with opposition from the supervisor. John Phillips.
The employer’s complaint is also strong at Bistro Moulin, Didier and Colleen Dutertre’s European-style bistro one block from Cannery Row. The couple – he’s the chef, she’s the operations manager and the wine manager – lose their most experienced dishwasher because he’s promoted to his other job. They also need bussers and servers, but very few people respond to their ads, and those who respond do not have the level of experience they need to work outside the house, or they already have one or more. even two. other jobs and cannot work several hours.
“Didier and I are exhausted and we can’t be open seven days a week. We’re limited by physical capacity of how much we can work,” Colleen says. “It’s a great balancing act. But I trust. We’ve taken on all the challenges so far, and after a long period of feeling it’s the end and it’s not, you’re just passing by.
At Woody’s Restaurant & Bar, Chef Tim Wood’s new restaurant at Monterey Airport, he laughingly delivers “a blanket statement that everyone panics” about the hiring. Wood opened during the pandemic and has just completed renovating the dining room, in the space once occupied by the Golden Tee. He needs to hire 10 people, from dishwashers to bussers to servers, and laments that he is willing to work “in duplicate (teams) in the kitchen to recruit more decent servers”.
“We think there will be an influx of people when unemployment comes to an end, but what we know right now is that it’s a buyer’s market,” Wood says, referring to benefits. improved unemployment. “If the pandemic had only lasted two months, people would be back.
“But people have changed,” he adds. “It’s money but it’s stressful and you sacrifice a lot in the restaurant industry and it bothers you as a normal human being. With the pandemic, people have tasted normalcy and looked at their budgets and if they get away with less, they’ve decided to get by with less.