‘A Big Challenge': Some South Florida Restaurants Turn to Bonuses to Fill Open Positions

Restaurants using every tool to find workers as industry bounces back from COVID-19

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has hit the hospitality and restaurant industry hard, but as business bounces back, some South Florida restaurants say they’re having trouble hiring staff.

"Across the industry we’re facing some labor challenges. We are seeing across all of our stores, a real demand for employment and employees, but not a whole lot of applicants,” said Tim Petrillo, CEO of The Restaurant People in Fort Lauderdale.

Petrillo said his restaurants are seeing more customers which is bringing in much needed revenue. However, getting the hospitality workers to meet that demand has been a struggle.

“We had to close down stations at our restaurants. We could literally be operating at 100 percent of volume that we were in 2019, with 75 percent of the staff,” said Petrillo.

Petrillo said a combination of factors, including people leaving the industry and government assistance, could be to blame.

"Because of the stimulus checks and unemployment checks, it’s been keeping people on the sidelines versus going back into the workplace. Especially in the service industry," said Petrillo.

On the other hand, hospitality workers with UNITE HERE Local 355, said they want to get back to work as soon as possible. The union gathered outside the Broward Government Center on Monday asking Broward County Commissioners to ensure that they’ll get their jobs back whenever the Diplomat Beach Resort and Convention center re-opens for business.

For Petrillo though, he said his restaurants are using every tool they have to fill their open positions.

“From employee retention bonuses, to referrals to head hunters and recruitment firms, to signing bonuses, obviously were paying higher wages. It’s just a big challenge,” said Petrillo.

As business bounces back, some South Florida restaurants say they’re having trouble hiring staff. NBC 6's Amanda Plasencia reports

John Cohen, the lead server at Royal Pub & Kitchen, said finding back of house staff is extremely hard right now because of unemployment and stimulus checks coming through.

“We would offer training as long as you're willing to adsorb the information," Cohen said. "Internally we have some incentives for people trying to get their friends and family whatever we can right now just to make sure that we’re able to run the ship and get the flow going.”

If you’re interested in a hospitality job with The Restaurant People, click here. Click here for open positions with Royal Pig Pub & Kitchen, and here for open positions with Bodega Taqueria & Tequila.

Contact Us