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Arn't you tired of the struggle to attract and/or find good employees to your cafe, brewery, restaurant or catering company? This problem is real. I'm not even going to belabor that point. It's just gonna make us sad! Instead, let's give you an outline that might help you reset your hiring habits and procedures, and give you better results. Ready, set, go!


  • Job description -- do you have your tasks, responsibilities clearly bulleted out? At the top of the job description, define how this role fits into the puzzle of your business. Take the time to make sure it accurately outlines the job, so you can always return to this document when you next need to hire for this position. 
  • Job placement ad -- do you have a template? If you do, you can hop on your computer, find that document, and write the ad. Post it immediately, or edit again a day later.  Make sure your job ad asks the applicant to send 2 or 3 things--resume + paragraph on why you're good for this job + your favorite working environment.
Here's Blue Bottle Cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It looks good in every way. Make sure you have good hiring habits and procedures in place. It'll ensure your customers are happy, and want to return. 

Here's Blue Bottle Cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It looks good in every way. Make sure you have good hiring habits and procedures in place. It'll ensure your customers are happy, and want to return. 


  • Place the ad -- choose where to place this ad, and consider your options:
    • Connect in the community -- are there job boards, community organizations that support the restaurant industry in your city, churches or synagogues that organize training and job skills. 
    • Figure out where intelligent, responsible employees are hanging out.
      • Can you find eager high-school grads who chose to not go to college (hire and train them before they learn bad work habits). 
      • Can you find college part-time workers.
      • Is there a program in your city? Call your city offices or chamber of commerce for more information. 
    • Your present employees are a good resource to get the word out.
    • FB -- this is a common debate, but why diminish your prospects?
    • Craigslist -- I understand that not the best candidates. You need to put the ad out and see if some one does come from each platform who is worth talking to. 

CAUTIONARY TALE: You won't be able to start screening until you get that ad out there. Owners and management teams commonly wait 3 days to 2 weeks before the put out an ad. Don't wait, it's not like a good bottle of wine: it doesn't get better in time!

  • Job application -- this can be sent to the applicants that appeals to you. This could be a word doc or a google doc. 

 CAUTIONARY TALE: If an applicant fails to answer your 2 or 3 requests, do not send an application.  

  • Interview -- there is some level of formality you want to take with every interview. Keep your conversation to 30 minutes or less. And if you choose, have two people interview each applicant.  Two peoples' perspectives are far better than one.

CAUTIONARY TALE: Tune into how your staff react to an applicant.  They may have their radar up for other things than you do. More input at this stage is well worth tuning in to.  

  • Stage -- an on-site "interview".  Thankfully this more common. Have a prospect come in during a regular day service. Set up a shadow situation, with a person on staff, not the person who interviewed (this ensures that the staff give you feedback, and, even buy in). Pay this person cash at the end of their stage. Do not put them on payroll until after the interview and the stage.  This ensures that if this person is not a fit, the transaction is complete.  If they are a good candidate, you have promised and delivered that you value their time by paying them, at that moment.

CAUTIONARY TALE: Skipping a stage often indicates you are in a rush. It may indicate that to the new hire, to your present staff, and you, too, should question. Dialogue in your head, "uh, last time I skipped a stage, that new hire quit in 2 weeks because he wasn't a good fit"! Setting up a stage means the employee has to sustain a high level of performance. It's also a fantastic way for you to ask your present staff for feedback. Asking for their input means you both value each other. That is a better position for your business when you do hire them on. And if they don't show for a stage, you learn (a no-cost lesson)!

  • Letter/email inviting them to join you staff -- outline the hiring date, pay, hours. This will ensure strong communication (this is competitive advantage in food and beverage industry). Face it, we all want to be recognized and appreciated. Why not start from before they are hired on--set a good expectation. This is something Erin Moran, at Union Square Hospitality Group, recommends. 
  • Phone call inviting them to join the staff -- use the letter/email as your script in your conversation. (and yes, sed the letter AND make the call!) The tone of your voice, and the tone of theirs is important and should be affirming. And, again, communication, from the very beginning is a good policy.
  • Onboarding -- is the system you have fully planned and integrated? Do you train, systematically,   and allow time to record the paperwork prior to the first payroll.  This is actually another topic entirely, which is addressed in our Onboarding Toolkit. For now, just remember, do not overlook the importance of creating a good first impression by expecting them when they arrive on time (or early), have paperwork and employee manual ready, and having a training plan that is spread out over their first 10 days. Your business benefits from this as much as the employee. We are all working together to move the business, and individual employees to a better place. 

Does this help?  You may find that this outline is too brief, or too detailed. It's your hiring habits and procedures. Take what you like, leave the rest behind. If you like this, but need do go deeper, then look at the Hiring Toolkit. It digs in deeper.  You'll get to the philosophies of what to ask and why, why it's important for the interview to match your vision and mission, there are templates, scripts and even a job placement ad. And, as many bloggers say, the best discussion happens after this post.  You've all been a bit shy, dig in, and tell me what your experience is, problems or solutions that are different than you find in this outline.  Luckily, our world is more cooperative than contentious. Share your feelings and ideas. We can all gain from each other. Write your comments below.