Source, The Reporter, Donna Rovins
UPPER MERION — As if the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been hard enough on restaurants and hotels across the region and the country — closures, capacity restrictions, being forced to change business models. Now, as vaccinations increase and COVID cases begin to slowly decrease, the hospitality industry is facing another issue —a lack of staff.
Restaurant and hotel workers furloughed during the pandemic or that left the industry to find other work — have left a gap in staffing levels — not enough workers to serve customers.
To help address the issue, the King of Prussia District will host a job fair — Let’s Go KOP Hospitality Hiring Fair — on Tuesday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Alloy King of Prussia, 301 W. DeKalb Pike, Upper Merion.
The goal of the first time event is to fill the estimated 350 staff openings at King of Prussia area hotels and restaurants.
More than 30 King of Prussia restaurants and hotels will participate in the event. They are looking for people with a variety of experience to fill front-of-house, back-of-house and leadership positions. All of the businesses will offer on-site interviews at the hiring fair and many will be prepared to extend offers during the event.
“King of Prussia’s hospitality scene is booming, attracting people from near and far who are drawn to our world-class dining, shopping and entertainment,” Eric Goldstein, executive director, King of Prussia District, said. “Coming off a difficult year, it’s difficult for us to hear that our hotels and restaurants are struggling to staff up for the increased business. We hope that by highlighting the many reasons why KOP is great place to work and offering an extra incentive with the bonus, we can encourage people to start the next chapter in their employment journey in King of Prussia.”
Admission to the Let’s Go KOP Hospitality Hiring Fair is free and pre-registration is not required. Interested applicants should bring copies of their resume and can also access many of the applications in advance on the Hiring Fair’s webpage.
Free shuttles to/from the Norristown Transportation Center and the Alloy will run every 30 minutes from 9:45 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. Mask wearing and social distancing will be mandatory.
According to Rachel Ammon, director of marketing and communications for the King of Prussia District, the event is a direct result of the businesses reaching out to the district.
“We had a few businesses directly reach out to us for help with this issue and then we bounced the idea off of a few other businesses. Once we saw that there was a need and interest in an event like this, we set the wheels in motion,” she said.
One of the restaurants participating in the event is Pepper’s by Amedeo’s, 175 Town Center Road in Upper Merion. Co-owner Mary Keenan said before the pandemic, Pepper’s had about 30 employees. Currently, Pepper’s has about 25 employees and Keenan is looking to hire about six employees at the event.
Keenan and several members of her family purchased Pepper’s in February 2020 — six weeks before the pandemic struck. While the business had offered take-out before the pandemic, Keenan said it was a small part of the business — that has now grown. She said the restaurant has also added outdoor dining, adding to the staffing needs.
“We’re busier, since we now have new the entity of an outdoor dining room. To accommodate my indoor and my outdoor dining, I need more servers than I needed before,” she said. In addition, she said people have begun booking private rooms at Amedeo’s for parties.
According to Keenan, staffing is “kind of a desperate situation.”
“We are basically turning away business at times because we don’t have enough staff. I don’t want to provide poor service or have people waiting a long time. So we have resorted to turning people away at times. It’s not that I don’t have a table for them; I don’t have the staff to take care of them,” she said.
Keenan is looking for a manager, an experienced cook and a few servers. She added she would “absolutely” hire someone on the spot at the hiring event, if she felt a “good connection” with the person during the interview.
According to Ammon, the majority of the event will be held in the ballroom where the businesses will talk with candidates. On-site interviews will take place in the restaurant at the Alloy.
As an extra incentive, King of Prussia District is sponsoring a bonus program during the event — offering $20,000 in bonuses for positions accepted with restaurants and hotels that have opted in to the bonus program. The first 65 people to accept a position with a participating business will be eligible for a $300 bonus, which will be paid out in two installments — $150 after 30 days of employment and $150 after 90 days of employment.
Keenan said Pepper’s by Amedeo’s is offering an additional $300 bonus. Candidates at the hiring event that are hired by Pepper’s will receive an additional $300 bonus after 120 days of employment.
For more information, including a list of open positions, visit: https://visitkop.com/lets-go-kop-hospitality-hiring-fair/