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Phoenix restaurant offering bonuses, quick promotions to attract workers

During the pandemic, workers left the food industry, and ever since, restaurant owners have struggled to fill their staff.
Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 7:46 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Arizona Restaurant Association says finding workers has never been as challenging as it is right now. During the pandemic, workers left the food industry, and ever since, restaurant owners have struggled to fill their staff.

CEO and President of the Arizona Restaurant Association Steve Chucri say managers are talking all about finding employees. “I have not seen labor tight and so difficult as it has been the last year,” said Chucri.

Cafe Valley in Phoenix is short about 200 workers right now. The director of human resources says they created a new program to attract and keep new people. “We didn’t really lose business; we lost employees,” Patricia Mctague said. “We don’t want to be shorting our customers because we don’t have the people to run our lines.”

The new program includes specific training for new hires. They’ll take people without any restaurant experience. Since they are short workers, there is an opportunity for promotion quickly. Mctague says new people could be promoted to a supervisor within six months to a year, which means more pay and better benefits. “We’re very patient; we understand it’s a learning process, but it’s not very hard at all,” said Mctague.

During the pandemic, workers have picked up overtime shifts. Sometimes a worker clocks in six days a week, and Mctague says that’s not sustainable. “It takes a toll on their personal life; we really need to fill those positions so we can have a standard schedule for everybody,” said Mctague.

The Arizona Restaurant Association says some shops offer signing bonuses and another bonus for staying with the company for three to six months. Chucri says the extra cash and ability to move up quickly is starting to get more workers in the door, but there is still a significant need.