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Metro area restaurants offering thousands in sign-on bonuses to recruit workers

Local leaders in the industry say the struggle to hire workers is the result of many factors.

MINNEAPOLIS — Restaurants and bars are banking on a busy summer as they rebound from the pandemic, but they're facing a new hurdle. A severe shortage of workers.

As a result he service industry is taking a page from the state's playbook by offering incentives. Some of them offering financial incentives like a $10,000 signing bonus for managers at places like Punch Pizza.

The Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which owns several restaurants across the metro, is offering a $350 hiring bonus for hourly positions with the $100 being paid out when you start, and the remaining $250 paid out after 90 days. 

"Originally when we closed down we had to make tough choices, we had to make tough cuts because we were on strict budgets when we reopened we could only bring back so many staff," said Jessica McGerr, Manager at Blue Plate's The Freehouse in Minneapolis. 

Local leaders in the industry say the struggle to hire workers is the result of many factors.

"People who we had to furlough got new jobs and so they aren't available anymore," said McGerr. 

RELATED: Restaurants feel optimistic heading into hopefully busy 2021 summer

"Another issue is the unemployment pandemic unemployment assistance program," said Stephanie Shimp, Marketing Director for Blue Plate. 

This is putting a strain not just on business, but on those trying to keep businesses afloat, with the workers they do have being stretched thin.

"If someone doesn't show up or if you're consistently running short-staffed, it just raises the stress level," said Shimp. 

"I've seen servers crying in the back because people get so impatient that something takes a little extra time because we are understaffed," said McGerr. 

Lending itself to another setback, trying to retain workers.

"We've done some retention bonuses as well for key positions to make sure that we keep those people who are important to us," said Shimp. 

As restrictions ease, and more people return to the lives they once knew, hospitality leaders have one request.

"Be patient, be kind, be graceful," said Shimp. 

As we all navigate this new normal.

"I know the challenges right now, we're navigating them as best we can but I'm hopeful that we'll come out on the other side looking a lot better" said McGerr. 

Liz Rammer with Hospitality Minnesota said, as of last month, the industry that normally employs nearly 300,000 people was down 80,000 jobs statewide. 

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