Anna Maria Island restaurant offering cash incentive to anyone who helps them fill open positions

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Staffing has been an ongoing struggle for business owners in the hospitality industry. So much so, many are coming up with incentives to bring in employees.

The Chateau Anna Maria opened up back in late December. The new restaurant on Anna Maria Island is giving out $250 to anyone who helps them fill job openings.

Partner and owner Buddy Foy Jr. tells 8 On Your Side business since the opening has been booming, but keeping up with that demand has been tough.

“On a scale of one to 10 of difficulty, we are to a 10 or 11,” said Foy Jr.

That’s why the cash incentive has come into play.

“I never thought we would be at a point where we are handing out cash for incentives, ever. It is an employee’s market right now,” said Foy Jr.

On average, 30% of customers are turned away each night. General Manager Mark Trapasso says it’s a tough reality that is impacting potential growth.

“I absolutely could do more, but if I had 12 or 15 more people, I could blow out the side of this restaurant and it would be huge,” said Trapasso.

Another incentive is employees are immediately getting to work busy shifts. However, Trapasso says training can be challenging.

“Normally where I would do a week to a week-and-a-half of training and then sit down and do a menu test, I am literally throwing you out there with my best server for probably two nights, and then on the third night, you are taking tables by yourself because I physically need the body,” said Trapasso.

Foy Jr. says a big part of the challenge over the last several months has been facing a new opponent of sorts in the hospitality industry– unemployment benefits.

“Our competitor is the government and I didn’t think we would be competing against the government when it comes to pay scale and pay rates,” said Foy Jr.

In addition to the incentive of busy shifts for new employees, Foy Jr. is looking into offering 401K and health insurance benefits. He’s also actively looking to expand the business in Florida.

“We will dedicate to opening more locations, even as hard as this is, we will open more locations so that if you are good at what you do, there is future management roles for you. We will promote from within. I, my wife, my brother who own the restaurant, we have committed that we will open and take risks and open more locations as long as we can staff here and utilize this as a training ground,” said Foy Jr.

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