Restaurant owners say finding staff for new locations is challen - WSMV Channel 4

Restaurant owners say finding staff for new locations is challenging

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It seems like every week there's a new restaurant to try in Nashville, but many in that industry said it's hard to find people to staff their locations.

Restaurant owners are getting more creative with how they hire, even beefing up benefits to entice people to work for them.

"Honestly, the employee pool has gotten really tight because so many awesome restaurants are opening in the area," said Claire Crowell, president of Nashville Originals, an independent restaurant association in Nashville.

According to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, 17 new eateries opened up so far this year, and there are 106 more to go. That's up from 90 in 2016 and 53 new restaurants in 2015.

Miranda Pontes felt the pressure of the saturated environment.

"We go a little outside the box as far as trying to get to know each person that works here," said Pontes, who previously owned BurgerUp.

Her new restaurant Lulu is slated to open on May 2.

"You're waiting on codes. You're waiting on inspections," said Lulu manager Colin Schaffer of the challenges that come with opening a restaurant. "It's exciting, it's nerve wrecking."

Pontes said word of mouth helped get her staff of 35 together for orientation Wednesday, and some left jobs at other restaurants for the opportunity.

"Some have, yes, but I certainly don't encourage that. I wouldn't want to poach anyone," Pontes said.

With unemployment low, businesses are doing more to entice people. Crowell said owners are adding benefits, like paid vacation and 401k plans for employees.

"There is a positive effect going with restaurants a bit more competitive with what they offer their employees that are full time and really being intentional about what they do to keep those employees when they find good ones," said Crowell, who is also the chief operating officer at A Marshall Family Foods.

If you're looking for a way to get your foot in the door with an entry level position, Crowell said many restaurant owners are hiring dishwashers, who then train on food prep and move up the ladder.

Click here for a list of local restaurant jobs.

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