Sunday closures, $ 10,000 signing bonuses as cafes and restaurants battle staff shortages

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“There are so many little things we have to teach,” she says.

“They come by ignoring the difference between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc.”

Customers, however, still expected the same dining experience they had become accustomed to as part of Melbourne’s sophisticated dining scene.

“We’re looking to put training badges on the staff as a nice nod to customers to make them a little more understanding of these kids,” she said. “They do a great job learning, but it takes time.”

James Sinclair, managing director of Signature Hospitality Group, which includes TGI Fridays, said the federal government needs an urgent plan to resume skills migration to alleviate the labor shortage.

The lockdowns that forced the hotel business to close in 2020 and early 2021 also reduced the available workforce, he said.

James Sinclair, Managing Director of Signature Hospitality Group.

“It’s a double whammy, we don’t have the new migration and the existing people haven’t been given enough job security, so they left the industry,” he said.

Mr. Sinclair said his company offered registration bonuses of $ 10,000 to experienced chefs. Salaries are also increasing dramatically in an attempt to attract qualified candidates.

“We wouldn’t do this if it was easy,” he said.

“Not only are we on our knees after a difficult year, but we are now reopening with insufficient staff, so we cannot return.”

Kate Bartholomew, co-owner of Coda and Tonka, said her Melbourne restaurants would soon be closed on Sunday due to understaffing.

It was even more difficult at her Lorne room, she said, who can barely fill the list. On a busy night, she would like to have eight chefs in the kitchen. Instead, she has three to work all week.

“Gone are the days when I could be selective and say you need restaurant experience, that would be laughable now,” she said.

“We have to work really hard on retaining staff and keeping them happy, which is difficult because we don’t have the money.”

Another victim of the pandemic could be longer and more complex menus. Ms Bartholomew said there were not enough chefs available to do the prep work required for the complicated dishes.

“We all really feel it now, it’s been a long time not sleeping at night,” she said.

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“I think it’s as difficult as during the pandemic. This is because the recovery is expected to be here, but the margins are thin as a razor. “

Wes Lambert, chief executive of the Food and Beverage Industry Association, said job openings were at an all time high for the hospitality industry.

He called on the government to open the borders to vaccinated migrants.

“The skills shortage cannot be solved with new graduates or new entrants to the VET and TAFE system,” he said.

“It can only be completed by professionals.”

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