At DC job fair, restaurants compete for few workers

At a big restaurant job fair outside D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Building June 15, employers far outnumbered job seekers. (WTOP/John Aaron)

Restaurants are getting busier as more people venture out, but they’re having trouble keeping up because of staffing issues.

A big restaurant job fair outside D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Building on Tuesday aimed to address the problem, though the 100 or so employers far outnumbered job seekers.

It’s par for the course, said Alex Jacobs, manager of the Old Ebbitt Grill.

“For instance, yesterday I had eight interviews lined up and only two people showed up,” he said.

Jacobs is offering a $400 bonus for some positions.

The goal is to “get people in the door hopefully, and hopefully they like it and they want to stick around,” he said.

Paris Twyman, a general manager with Farmers Restaurant Group, said she’s faced similar challenges.

“We’re getting busier by the day, and it’s tough to hold up that business and be able to be there for our guests because we just don’t necessarily have the people,” she said.

Nellie Mercado, assistant director of human resources for the Four Seasons Hotel, said: “It’s definitely a challenge … Right now you can see that there’s more vendors than people. But we’re hopeful and eager that people will definitely come back to the industry and join us.”

On the other side of the tables, Brian Christopher of Woodley Park was looking for a job as a cook, and liked his odds.

“And if the demand for labor is as high as I’ve heard reported, then I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to get a job out of this,” he said.

Christopher said he was looking for full-time work, and pay of at least $20 an hour.

The applicant-to-employer ratio was also a welcome sight for Brandon Robinson of Northwest D.C.

“I’m very encouraged to get out here and try to find a job,” he said, “because I know I can get it very simply,” he said.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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