NORTHEAST FLORIDA — It’s been a difficult year for restaurants and hotels one of the hardest hit groups by the pandemic.
But now as COVID-19 cases are going down, vaccine access is expanding and states are re-opening, our restaurants are facing a new crisis: finding enough employees to fill their open positions.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is working to help recruit employees in the service industry.
On Tuesday, it’s hosting a job fair at four locations to help those in the service and hospitality business find jobs.
One of the jobs fairs is happening right here Prati Italia on Big Island Drive.
Tom Gray is the Executive Chef and owner of Prati Italia and Town Hall restaurant in San Marco.
He said it’s been challenging for a lot of businesses to hire.
“I think there’s literally so many people trying to hire all at once. It’s like who gets the most attention or it probably comes down to where do you live? Geographically are you close to where you want to work? Is it the type of place you want to work?” Gray said.
The owner told Action News Jax his restaurant is a family-run business so they want to hire people who want to be a part of a family and have a great attitude.
“We’re actually looking for all positions mostly in the front of the house, mostly servers, bartenders, we are going to hire a few cooks,” Gray said.
And they’re not the only one hiring on Tuesday. Twenty local vendors will fill Prati waiting to hire on the spot.
Prati Italia serves everything from steaks to seafood but its main focus is roman style pizza and of course homemade pastas.
“It’s so thin and delicate. We make all the ricotta in house also,” Gray said.
When the pandemic hit, Prati was forced to lay off a lot of staff and it had to make changes to survive.
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It redesigned its website to make it easier for people to do contactless ordering and pick-up.
It also started a retail line by partnering with Native Sun selling some of its homemade pastas, sauces, and pizzas.
Even as restrictions lifted and restaurants opened up again Gray said not everyone feels comfortable coming back to work, but he’s hoping that will change.
“As we’re getting to the other side of the pandemic more people are vaccinated. Maybe more people are coming out and so we’re trying to re-hire and gear back up for that,” Gray said.
The job fair is happening May, 18 2021 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the following locations:
- Atlantic Recreation Center - 2500 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
- Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beachfront - 11 1st St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
- Prati Italia - 4972 Big Island Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32246
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Saint Augustine North, an IHG Hotel - 2300 FL-16, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Cox Media Group