Many RI businesses are hiring, but owners say their applicant pools have been slim

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the number of people who are fully vaccinated grows by the day, local establishments are hoping to erase some of the losses they’ve suffered over the past year.

Part of doing so includes hiring additional staff, but not everyone is eager to rejoin the workforce.

Venda Bar General Manager Gabriel Costantino tells 12 News every March, he hires in big numbers for the upcoming season.

This year, he decided to start the hiring process early, but he isn’t seeing the applications roll in like previous years.

“I’m not sure what is causing it,” Costantino said. “It’s been extremely difficult. I’ve hired two people since I started looking and normally this time of year I would be halfway through our hiring process.”

Executive Director of Federal Hill Commerce Association Rick Simone tells 12 News restaurants along their stretch of Atwells Avenue have more than 300 positions to fill.

Venda isn’t the only restaurant that’s struggling. Just down the street, Manager Lesley Hall is having the same problem at Massimo.

“We’re hiring for every position,” Hall said. “I’ve posted ads on Instagram, Facebook, everywhere, and the responses have been extremely minimal.”

While it is possible many aren’t interested in giving up their unemployment benefits for a new job, it may also be the fear of catching COVID that’s keeping people from wanting to head back to work.

Hall said Massimo has only had two employees contract COVID since the pandemic began.

“We’re a 200-seat restaurant, and the numbers are excellent,” Hall said. “The numbers have been in our favor, so come out and come back to work.”

“We have rapid testing on site, every single day,” she continued. “If you come in and say ‘I don’t feel good, can I take a test before I clock in?’ Absolutely, you’ll get your results in 15 minutes.”

Both Hall and Costantino tell 12 News they’re not requiring people to get vaccinated in order to work at their restaurants.

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