Phoenix Restaurateurs Struggle to Find Good Staff; What's Up with That?

Categories: Saria

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It's been a big year for chef Gio Osso and his new restaurant, Virtu Honest Craft. The restaurant was nominated for the James Beard Award Foundation's "Best New Restaurant" award in February -- and that's on top of a heaping pile of love from local and national media alike. You'd think the chef would be drowning in résumés from cooks and servers wanting to work at one of the city and country's hottest restaurants right now. But that's just not true.

"It's been really difficult," Osso says. "We've been here less than a year, and there's been a lot of turnover."

And Osso's not alone. Restaurant owners and chefs have been telling me for months that finding good people is harder than ever. Everyone has their own ideas about why, but it seems they all agree that the number of people with dedication and drive -- for both the front and back of the house -- is dwindling.

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"The thing for front of the house is that even though we're a major city, we're not a city like Chicago or New York -- we don't have lifers," Osso says. "We have more college kids where this is a job for now. It's quick money and it's fast money. But it's tough to find someone who really has a passion for it the way we do."

It's not hard to believe that with the decline of upscale dining, there's also been a decline in people who see waiting tables as a career. Perhaps career servers, at least in this city, are becoming yet another relic of a bygone era. They'll join sommeliers and pastry chefs on the list of jobs that just don't exist very much anymore.

It's sad, but it's a reality that restaurant owners like Osso have been struggling with for years.

Osso's also been struggling with things behind the bar.

"I love the whole mixology thing, I really truly do," the chef says. "However, I think that 90 percent of the mixologists in this town at this time are so wrapped up with the celebrity of it that they're losing focus on the actual job itself."

"It's kind of putting it little bit of a taste in my mouth about this whole mixology thing," he adds.

It's undeniable that the folks responsible for cocktails are getting more attention now than ever but they're not the only one who might be suffering from inflated egos, at least according to German Osio, owner of Central Bistro and Local Bistro.


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11 comments
Joe Hobson
Joe Hobson

From a cooks perspective...ppl are often stretched too thin and a lack of focus on culinary expertise leaves young aspiring chefs feeling lost in the industry with no solid direction. I can name 10 awesome cooks waiting to work with an awesome chef and gain direction and focus in the industry...but the jobs don't seam to be there...staging is limited..and if you find an awesome place then you have to fight you way up a ladder hoping to be noticed...cooks spend more time in the kitchen than with our fams...go home and Google everything from d. Chang and dufrane, kevin binkley to Escoffier and T.K., modernist to CIA, and show up at work and look for the that one person on the same page....and the chefs are always too busy...lol...plus the pay is shit...emphasize on building chefs not cooks for your menu...basic interaction

roggie67
roggie67

How can I say it?  Willing to jump into the dishroom.   Honestly, nice break from the line now and again.  Deliveries?  Part of the job, and I do like to see what is coming in.  Respect from employers?  Barely.  Best people were at a little Mom and Pop place.  Appetito's.

RIck
RIck

Start paying people real middle class wages and you'll have no problem. If you can't afford to do that, you don't deserve to have good dedicated staff.

midevilforever
midevilforever

It's because the good wait staff are tired of getting fucked by the shitty ass owners in this state. Pay better or offer to cover slow nights and maybe good waiters will stick around.

HRapocalypse
HRapocalypse

Don't get me started. I've been hiring restaurant staff for over twenty years. Today's general applicant is barely bi-pedal in comparison to his/her counterparts of even a decade or so ago. Semi-literate, completely entitled emotionally, and tethered almost umbilically to their cell phones, they're reduced to an almost infantile dependence on its constant feed, and can't seem to work for more than a few minutes at a stretch before feeling the need to sneak off and suckle from their smart phone screens.

rlgans1
rlgans1

The other part of the equation is that restaurants won't hire older chefs. If you are beyond 50, they aren't interested. They would rather hire the young, even though the older people have the work ethic that has not been found in the younger generation.

joe.distort
joe.distort

my wife is a chef with great experience who busts her ass and every industry job tries to pay her like $11/Hr. Maybe that has something to do with it

roggie67
roggie67

@HRapocalypse Since I have been working in the industry for almost thirty years, I have a hard time with the entire situation.  Constantly training, and the cell phones are terrible.  I am so tired of not only my coworkers, but also the management drop everything to take a call.  Especially, when it is always said no phones while working.

lemmster
lemmster

@HRapocalypse  This is the most insightful, accurate and well-stated bit of prose I have read in a very long time that speaks volumes about the pathetic and rapid decline our society as a whole has suffered in innumerable ways since the advent of cell phones. And the most obvious results of this degradation can be found in exactly the demographic you pointed out. Well done HRapocalypse! Way to tell it exactly like it is.

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