At TV’s Deli & Diner, owner Tracey Stroia has come up with a different approach to find desperately needed line cooks.
On its Facebook page the Trenton restaurant is offering a $200 finder’s fee to anyone who can find them a line cook ASAP.
The restaurant industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic in more ways than one. Early on, dining rooms were shuttered and restaurants could only offer take-out. Once dining rooms were permitted to reopen, they could do so only at 50% capacity.
Now some eateries, like TV’s Deli and Diner, are facing a worker shortage.
“We’ve been searching and searching for months and haven’t found a soul,” Stroia said.
“It’s been difficult between COVID and the unemployment being so high to find people in general.”
Stroia has owned the restaurant for 25 years along with her husband, Victor. While it’s always been hard to get line cooks, she said, it’s a lot tougher now. Stroia said several current employees have told her that other restaurants have tried to lure them away.
More: These are 9 definitive Downriver dining destinations
More:This chef is selling TV dinners
“We thought if people could put their feelers out, I would put an incentive on it,” she said.
Though Stroia did put a contingency to the finder’s fee on the posting.
To collect the full amount of the finder’s fee, the cook needs to work four weeks. The post reads that the restaurant will pay the finder $50 at the end of each week the line cook stays for 4 weeks.
Normally Stroia employs about 50 people across the restaurant and its catering business. Though the catering business is down because of the crowd limits, the restaurant can still do drop-offs. Stroia says she has about 30 staffers.
“Pre-COVID it was always a little difficult but nothing like now,” she said.
Some of Stroia’s staff who are parents and worked during the summer are not coming back. Instead, those parents, Stroia said, are staying home and homeschooling their kids.
In an August story on service worker veterans leaving the industry, Gary Chard, who runs Hired Knives, a Detroit-based restaurant staffing website, told Free Press restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik that usage is down 50% among applicants, many of whom Chard posits are hospitality careerists.
“It’s a sad state,” Chard said. “From our data, I’m seeing less people coming on looking for jobs in the food and beverage industry. The numbers are not dramatically different from a job-posting perspective, but the number of applicants is dramatically down.”
Chard said he hasn’t seen a spike in applicants as many predicted would come after the enhanced unemployment benefits offered through the federal CARES Act expired in late July.
Another post on TV’s Deli and Diner’s Facebook page says they are cutting back on some deliveries because of its staffing shortage.
Stroia said the restaurant initially did great with take-out business. But Stroia believes people didn’t think it would last this long.
Now she keeps working on marketing things differently to keep the business going. They’ve invested in a new vacuum sealer to offer more options for keeping to-go meal meals fresh. They also have specialty cocktails to-go such as a gimlet with fresh basil and lime and their signature Bloody Mary that’s loaded garnishes and vacuum sealed.
As a last resort, because of staffing, Stroia fears she might need to reduce hours.
“I never thought I would have to limit hours because I couldn’t find people to work,” Stroia said. “This is the last thing I anticipated.”
TV’s Deli & Diner serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s known for its upscale diner fare and homemade offerings including soups and classics like meatloaf and pot roast. They also have fresh salads, sandwiches, and gourmet burgers. The diner is also well known for its affordable buttery tasting lobster bisque. A quart of the lobster bisque, according to its menu, is $16.99.
TV’s Deli & Diner is located at 2441 Fort, Trenton; 734-671-9005 and tvsdelidiner.com.
Contact food writer Susan Selasky: 313-222-6872 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitte…