EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Siena Restaurants in both East Greenwich and Smithfield are hiring, but co-owner Anthony Tarro tells 12 News the applications just aren’t coming in like they used to.

Tarro said they’re looking to hire 20 new employees ahead of the summer. But it’s a task that he, along with restaurant owners across the country, are struggling with amid the pandemic.

“I really believe it’s a combination between state and federal aid that’s being provided to a lot of people,” Tarro said when asked why he believes there haven’t been many applicants. “We would normally be paying someone between $15 to $20 an hour. It’s not competitive for us to provide rates that would net out to what somebody would make by collecting.”

“I think what we’re facing as restaurant owners is really a crisis within the industry itself,” he continued. “What we have, first of all, is a very short supply of industry people.”

That’s why Siena is offering bonuses to those who apply.

“We are being as generous as we can be,” he said. “We have set up $500 bonuses for entry level positions, like cooks, servers and bartenders. We have set up $1,000 incentives for assistant managers and sous chefs, and $2,500 incentives for general managers and executive chefs.”

But Tarro said it doesn’t stop there.

Siena is also offering tuition assistance for college students who wind up working there, and anyone who refers a potential employee that ends up getting hired will receive a $250 gift card.