VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Restaurant and hotel owners across Virginia Beach are racing against the clock to hire before the summer season officially hits. Both industries are struggling to bring more staff on board.
This week they hope to change that with a virtual hiring fair and more than 1,000 jobs up for grabs.
The days are getting warmer, which is bringing a pre-summer buzz to the Oceanfront.
“We are ready to go full steam ahead, assuming we can go full steam ahead,” said Harvest co-owner Michael Mauch.
For Mauch, it’s both exciting and a bit intimidating as he hurries to hire.
“Anybody that we have that responds to one of our Indeed or Facebook posts and sets up a time, out of 15 we will probably get one,” Mauch said. “And if we are lucky, we will get two that show up.”
Mauch closed Harvest in December for a full revamp. He is adding rooftop seating and a full kitchen. He is crossing his fingers they can fully open soon.
“We could end up doing some shortened hours and maybe off for a day or so,” Mauch said.
He’s not the only one.
“We’ve got owners in the kitchen, we’ve got them washing dishes,” said Virginia Beach Restaurant Association Executive Director Stacey Shiflet.
Shiflet said hotels across the area are looking to hire 1,100 people, restaurants, 260.
“Last year this time, I can speak for the restaurants, I was doing job fairs, we had about 75 open positions,” Shiflet said. “So, we are looking at almost three times the amount of positions, even at limited capacity.”
The associations are holding a joint virtual job fair on Thursday, May 6 to work on filling those slots.
Positions range from part-time, full-time, and seasonal. Applicants can simply sign up for a 10-minute interview spot for the jobs they are interested in.
“We’ve got 41 hotels, restaurants, and attractions that are hiring, and more adding on by the hour,” Shiflet said.
Shiflet believes unemployment benefits have dried up the hiring pool.
“The money is going to be available to not go to work all the way through September 30,” Shiflet said. “We are looking at a very long four, five months.”
Mauch adds many workers were pushed out during the pandemic.
“In that time, they have probably had to find employment elsewhere, and maybe just didn’t want to go back to the restaurant industry,” Mauch said.
Both worry about what the summer season holds if those jobs go unfilled.
“We will keep looking in any way, shape, or form possible,” Shiflet said.
“Hopefully, we will all get to enjoy it. Hopefully, we will all be safe,” Mauch said. “Hopefully, it will be successful for everybody.”
The virtual job fair kicks off this Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m. Officials said they have 1,000 registration spots to fill. Hiring vendors or applicants can register here.