Ohio’s food industry is looking to hire thousands of workers, and owners need to get creative to get applicants in the door.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Will the doors open tomorrow? It’s a question many restaurant owners in Ohio have to ask themselves when they close for the night.
It’s a situation Vick’s Gourmet Pizza in Reynoldsburg has not come across since first opening in 1961.
“For the first time ever we’ve had to shutdown days because we didn’t have staff,” said Christene Logesky, whose family has owned Vick’s since 1961.
Staffing has caused the owners to pick up shifts, nearly every day of the week. Vick’s has turned online job site postings and social media to get people to apply.
“I feel like what we did before to hire employees doesn’t work anymore before people just walk in and ask for a job. Before people just walk in and we h9ire them,” said Logesky. “ I think our lowest-paid employees are at $12 an hour and it still doesn’t feel like it is enough.”
She says the pizza shop has a hard time competing with other industries and they are not alone
The food industry is still seeking to hire 100,000 workers. The Ohio Restaurant Association says it’s the second-largest employer in the state with 585,000 employees.
John Barker is the president and CEO of the organization and he says his clients need to be clever to hire more workers.
“Pay has gone up, compensation has gone up,” said Barker. “People were paying retention bonuses, people [are] getting more creative, you’re going to see more and more of that.”
Barker tells 10TV 3,100 restaurants have permanently closed down, and many now are struggling to keep the doors open.
“If you drive around and go into restaurants, you’ll notice some days, they’re not open, sometimes they’re closed early, they’re not open the full hours that they used to be open. And by the way, most of our operators are still recovering from 2020 when they lost a ton of money. And so it’s a long way to go for the industry in this workforce piece is going to be here for a while,” said Barker.
Columbus-based White Castle has raised wages for current employees to match what they are offering applicants. They are looking to hire hundreds of workers across the nation, and here in the Capital City.
“In Columbus, if we are at full capacity, we would have 700 team members. We are about 100 people short,” said Jamie Richardson, the Vice President at White Castle. “One of the big things we invested into to invite more people in to work at White Castle is that we raised our starting pay to $15 an hour. You get free food at work, and you get 20% off if you want to take food out for family and friends.”
The last 19 months have been the hardest on business for White Castle in the last 100 years, according to Richardson.
“We have had to adjust hours and a lot of times we don’t have as many people on the team as we need or want. Those are always tough decisions, but we have to be real world and adjust as we need to,” said Richardson.
Read More: Hiring restaurant workers during the ‘Great Resignation’