Forty years ago, three young businessmen came together to build one of the most successful restaurant groups in downtown Salt Lake City. Gastronomy, Inc., better known for their restaurants - Market Street Grill, Oyster Bar and New Yorker. With their eye on the business principle of high-quality service, casual surroundings and delicious food at a good perceived value, they were the pioneers of "fresh seafood" in Utah.
Staying true to their business feature of excellence, Gastronomy is known for their amazing variety of fresh seafood and the quality of their steaks, which are every bit as good as the seafood. Their clam chowder, paired with delicious sourdough bread, is known all over the country.
We got in touch with their Human Resources Director, Catherine Burns, to share her expertise in hiring for such a successful restaurant business. Prior to that, she worked in their fine dining restaurant (recently closed) as a server, hostess and manager. Gastronomy, Inc. employs approximately 400 individuals and her main responsibility is to ensure that they have a great work environment for the staff. Additionally, Catherine is in charge of workplace safety, food safety and Gastronomy's marketing efforts. She is also the manager of the corporate office.
The organization has been highly successful because the owners and managers of its restaurants demand top performance from themselves and their employees. With more than 25 years in the restaurant business and nine successful operations, Gastronomy, Inc. continues to expand.
Q: What have your experiences been in dealing with hiring hourly workers?
Catherine: It has been very difficult for quite some time now. There are too many restaurants in Salt Lake City for the number of individuals interested in working in them. Line cooks and other back of the house staff are especially hard to find. Lately, we have hired some excellent servers, but that is not always the case. Unemployment nationally is low, but it is especially low in Utah.
Q: What has worked most for you when hiring hourly workers?
Catherine: Making sure we are very clear about the expectations and then ensuring that we make the person comfortable and welcome when they start. Each new employee is assigned a mentor manager, who provides extra care for their training and well-being.
Indeed is working fairly well, we have a local job board called KSL which also produces applicants. Workstream is partnering with both of these so it makes it efficient to place ads. We also have a robust employee referral program that results in new hires.
Q: Where are your go-to channels for sourcing and hiring?
Catherine: Indeed, KSL, employee referral, refuge programs, temporary staffing agencies, social media, job fairs (although usually not very fruitful).
Q: What innovative recruiting technologies or methods have you seen recently?
Catherine: I think the newest thing that could help us is the text-to-apply feature that Workstream has set up. Otherwise, you just have to get the word out that working in restaurants is lucrative, flexible, fun and can set a person up with vital life and/or workplace skills and behaviors.
Hiring hourly workers may not be an easy process, but Workstream can simplify it for you! Schedule a chat with us and find out more.
Kai Lin is a freelance writer and digital marketer well-versed in SEO. Apart from writing, she also seeks solace in traveling, photography and playing the piano.