With job applicants few and far between, Hamilton's hospitality industry got creative

restaurant worker shortage
Posted at 10:50 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 10:47:13-04

HAMILTON, Ohio — Like most in the hospitality industry, the last year has offered one challenge after another for Tyler McCleary with Tano Bistro in Hamilton. Now, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he has a new problem.

As Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gradually loosens public health restrictions, he's thinking ahead to opening the restaurant to both indoor and outdoor dining. The problem is they don't have the staff to pull it off.

Hamilton business leaders hope a new online portal will help connect employers with job-seekers.

"With front-of-house staffing and kitchen, there's only so much," McCleary, Tano's director of operations, told WCPO. "They're human beings. There's only so much they can do. I don't want to tire anyone out."

It's created an applicant's job market in his industry.

"I'm sure it's overwhelming because, frankly, everyone is hiring," he told WCPO. "It's more of a where do I choose?"

The Hamilton Amusement Hospitality Association launched its online portal, and Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce president Dan Bates said it could be an answer to the industry's requests for assistance.

"They were just screaming for, we could do fabulous business if we had the staff," he said. "I think some people want to sit back and say, 'Is this going to work?' We don't know. We think it's going to.'"

McCleary said he understands the shortage in hospitality workers during a persistent, global pandemic. Bars, restaurants and venues are still operating at limited capacity and many people still are choosing not to go out for dinner and drinks.

But the work comes with some unique benefits, he said.

"Maybe not the giant 401k or big healthcare plan, but it's fun, flexible, a very unique environment," he said. "In a time where social interaction is limited, you get that here, right?"

The portal launched initially for Hamilton's hospitality industry only, but that could soon expand. Find the online portal here.