Staffing. For just about any restaurant owner it can be a grueling experience. Filling one position means pouring through potentially hundreds of applications, narrowing down finalists, making an offer to one candidate, only to have that person not show up on the first day. This was a common thread shared with Gary Chard, a former human resources executive. So he decided he would try to do something about it.
“In this day and age there’s got to be a better way of doing this,” Chard tells us.
That solution, he hopes, comes in the form of Hired Knives, a website dedicated fully to helping restaurants specifically to connect with job seekers. Chard said most restaurants go through Craigslist to post jobs, an outdated method that wields minimal results. With Hired Knives, job seekers fill out a profile, list their most previous job experience, their training, even a profile photo, along with the type of job they’re looking for and how many hours they want to work. Restaurants looking to hire similarly create a business profile and can search for suitable candidates using filters that weed out candidates that don’t fit what they’re looking for.
In its first four weeks, the Detroit-based website has attracted some 300 users and more than 200 job postings. The restaurants posting include a range of suburban chains to trendier spots like Selden Standard, Green Dot Stables, and Central Kitchen and Bar. Chard said the service is being tested out in Michigan at the moment but he hopes that as interest (and more investments) grows, he’ll be able to expand the service in larger markets.
Chard said the idea for Hired Knives was born after having a conversation with friend Dan Gearig, who runs El Guapo Mexican food truck. “He was having a nightmare with staffing,” Chard says.
The seasonality, the low pay, the high turnover rate make it difficult for a restaurant owner to justify spending hundreds of dollars to post a job on other job sites like LinkedIn. And going the free Craigslist route seems a crap shoot on both ends.
Michigan's $13.9 billion restaurant industry garnered some 415,500 jobs in 2015, that number is expected to jump to 455,000 in the next 10 years, according to the National Restaurant Association. That growth is particularly taking shape in metro Detroit.
Chef Dave Koshizawa, from the Arts Institute of Michigan and Izakaya Sanpei restaurant in Canton, says he sees both sides of the restaurant staffing struggle.
“Almost daily I hear from owners and chefs looking for qualified staff and students asking for recommendations. Detroit is primed for Hired Knives,” he says.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Hired Knives’ growth in the coming months. Restaurateurs and chefs in Detroit are already a close-knit community. At this point, Chard wants to tap into that community to help the local scene grow.