VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Business has been booming for restaurants along the Sarasota County coastline. However, some are still struggling to find the employees they need to keep up with demand.
Venice Pier Group includes Sharky’s on the Pier, Fins at Sharky’s, Snook Haven, and Siesta Eats. The company is made up of about 400 employees.
Owner Michale Pachota admits staffing has been an ongoing challenge during the busiest months of the year, specifically in the back of the house.
“Cooks, dishwashers, things like that is where our lack of help has been the most critical,” said Pachota.
Venice Pier Group is bringing in extra seasonal staff from other countries through the government’s H-2B program to help ease the workload on existing staff.
The company has plans in the works to provide affordable housing for those seasonal employees.
Pachota says they’re in the permitting process still, but hope to break ground on a dormitory-style apartment complex later this fall. The 7,000 square foot building will be made up of four units with a total of 16 beds.
Each unit will have four separate bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a shared dining area, kitchen and lounging space.
“The idea is that every employee that we have produces a certain amount of business. So it is actually to our benefit to have those people here rather than closing a station, reducing our seating, reducing our hours and things like that,” explained Pachota. “They actually provide a benefit to us and we charge them about half of what it costs to house them elsewhere, so it works out good for both sides,” he continued.
If the workforce housing program proves to be a success and the need is still there, Pachota says he’d like to expand the housing.
“It is our way trying to figure out how to make it work. We have been here for 35 years so it is not our first rodeo,” said Pachota.