Restaurants Begin To Hire Again, Offering Signs Of Hope

‘We’re Hiring’ signs at restaurants are replacing signs of shutdowns and closures, Jennifer Mayerle reports (2:20) WCCO 4 News At 5 - April 2, 2021

Video Transcript

- On the jobs front. The country added 916,000 jobs last month. Job growth was widespread, with the biggest gains in leisure and hospitality, education and construction. Here in Minnesota, restaurants are replacing closed signs with signs that now say now hiring.

- And it's offering hope and opportunity to an industry that's taken a hard hit during the pandemic. WCCO's, Jennifer Mayerle, spoke with three locations looking for customers and staff.

BRITTNEY KLASS: Lots of people that are wanting to support, businesses wanting to [INAUDIBLE] local.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: That's what prompted Brittney Klass to open a third concept in Gray's Food Hall in Minneapolis' North Loop. Last Drop Cafe, a coffee and wine bar, opens Wednesday.

BRITTNEY KLASS: Even in turmoil, even in the midst of turbulence, we can still produce-- people still want to support you.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: A compliment, Soul Bowl and Bad Wings, the latter also opened during the pandemic. Klass says, surprisingly, staffing was their biggest challenge.

BRITTNEY KLASS: Because so many people are kind of furloughed, and kind of on unemployment, and kind of trying to figure out, like, what the next step for them.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: With that piece behind them, she says, she's excited for what's ahead. And a North Loop staple is expanding to the suburbs and expanding their roster midsummer. Smack Shack is taking its lobster-centric fare to Bloomington at 494 in France.

JOSH THOMA: It's been really tough in our industry, and it's been sad to see restaurants close. However, that gives an opportunity for places to kind of have a rebirth.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: Chef Josh Thoma says, they're designing the 10,000 square foot space with distancing in mind. And says, for them, it's a good time to hire.

JOSH THOMA: The workforce was fairly tight. And now, we have people that are actually actively seeking new jobs, and we have a much larger pool to choose from.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: Later this month, Pocket Square Cocktail Lounge will open in New Hope. The family and friend owned spot had a few timing setbacks.

AMY HOTCHAISS: We made a decision to go forward with it, and with a little bit of tweaks here and there.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: And is looking forward to hiring a few part-time bartenders to serve up distilled spirits in the owner's hometown.

AMY HOTCHAISS: So, we wanted to bring, you know, a cocktail room experience to where we all feel comfortable.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: According to Hospitality Minnesota, employment numbers are still down in the industry by about 100,000, but there are signs of optimism, including some restaurants hiring staff back. In Minneapolis, Jennifer Mayerle, WCCO 4 News.