How a restaurant solves staffing problems

COVINGTON, Ky. – Worker shortages exacerbated by the pandemic are affecting every corner of Greater Cincinnati. It particularly affected the restaurant industry as the shutdown was lifted and more customers started coming in to eat.

Follow National Restaurant Association Mid-year Update, three out of four executives say hiring and retention are their biggest challenges despite employment growth.

This is a trend that continued even after the federal pandemic ended unemployment benefits for these workers, a move intended to lure more people back to work.

However, there is one location that has avoided staffing shortages together: Agave and Rye in Covington.

“It’s all about people, brands and culture, right? People want to enjoy where they work,” says Chris Britt.

Britt is the Operations Manager there.

Right across the river, the Marketing Manager at Earth & Ocean Restaurant Group, Tony Castelli, gave us a clear view of the labor struggle before the client arrived.

“We only have enough employees to operate,” says Castelli. “Our team works hard every day. I mean, they’ve been here since 9 a.m. just loading and unloading boxes, which isn’t necessarily part of their job description.”

He said companies really have to hold back from making money if there aren’t enough people to serve.

“If 1,000 people come into this building tonight, and we only have two waiters and one bartender, the chance of those 1,000 coming back is close to zero,” Castelli said.

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So how did Agave and Rye avoid this trend?

“We are offering great benefits right now,” Britt said.

In an industry where many people are paid minimum wage and have to tip, Agave and Rye is offering health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, gym memberships, and programs. Employee support programs include childcare and aged parent care.

“They need to know that they are safe, that their families are safe, that they have a future,” Britt said.

It’s setting the standard around the city.

E+O also plans to adjust its benefit structure and plans to offer bonuses.

“The industry is changing and I think that will be for the better,” said Castelli.

WCPO 9News asked Agave and Rye whether it would affect profits in the long term.

Britt said: “It didn’t. “Because we don’t have a lot of revenue, right? Losing an employee or team member costs a lot of money to bring in new people and train them. ”


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