Restaurant owners hope higher wages and benefits can entice new employees

With businesses across Northwest Ohio still searching for employees, In Oregon -- two restaurant owners believe the best way to attract people to work for them is by paying hiring wages.
In Oregon -- two restaurant owners believe the best way to attract people to work for them is by paying hiring wages.
Published: Apr. 24, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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OREGON, Ohio (WTVG) - Staff at Luckies Barn and Grill say sales have stayed strong even through the pandemic, but being able to find staff has been nearly impossible.

“You think during lockdown that’s going to be the hardest part… no-no,” said Luckies Owner Geoff Kies. “It’s happening now with a work shortage.”

Kies says he listened to what the people want, now offering higher wages, weekly pay, and partial health insurance coverage to his restaurant staff.

“What the pandemic has done is launched us 5 years in the future inflation wise, right so what you’ve got to do is listen to the economy and what the market is telling you, and keep up.”

Luckies is now starting dishwashers at $14 an hour, and line cooks at $17. Kies explains in response to the wage increases the restaurant is shorting its hours of operation, electing to close on Sundays, and relying more heavily on the sales of take-out orders and alcohol.

“Lucky for us a place like Luckies does a lot of volume, a whole lot of volume so we’re able to say okay we have to raise our pay rates to this in order to try and compete with other places like Amazon and Home Deport out there who yeah do pay well. We had to tweak the business to match our workforce. We are at an advantage we’re very lucky, there’s a lot of mom and pop places that just can’t do that.”

Just a few minutes down the road Star Diner in Oregon is facing its own struggles. Owner Joe Skaff says money is tight while trying to keep his 4 Northwest Ohio restaurant locations afloat. To find kitchen help he’s investing everything he can.

“We’ve even offered signing bonuses shockingly for people who would want to come in and join our team and work with us,” said Skaff. “Everyone thinks you’re making a bunch of money in the restaurant business but when business is down and when you have limited seating you still have to pay the same rent, the same lights, everything.”

From the diner to the barn, both restaurant owners agree they can’t make money or serve the community without the support of their staff.

“We’re doing okay... we have a pretty good name around town, and we’re getting through it,” said Skaff. “I just would like to hire about 10 more people to be honest with you.”

“That’s to me what’s more at stake is that communal gathering place for communities,” said Kies. “A lot of them will be gone by the end of the summer and that’s going to leave a big void for people on how they just enjoy life on a day-to-day basis.”

You can apply for open positions at the Star Diner and Luckies Barn and Grill on their websites.

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