Restaurant flooded with applicants after no-show job fair

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CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) —  Chicago restaurant owners Suheir and Andre Williams, owners of S2 Express Grill, feared they would have to give up on plans to open two more locations over a severe staffing shortage.

“We can’t open the doors,” Suheir said during an appearance on “Morning in America” in January. “If you have anybody or you know anybody who wants to work, please send them our way and we will open. We just cannot, we are barely making it.”

This is the story of so many restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry across the country. Small and large businesses alike are having real trouble filling job openings in the current labor market.

The Williams, owners of six Chicago-area restaurants, didn’t realize just how bad the labor issue had gotten until they held a hiring fair — and no one showed up

After appearing on “Morning in America” to discuss their no-show job fair and staffing woes, the pair decided to try again.

“It was awesome. Complete 360,” Andre said. “We had over almost 200 people show up in person. And another over 200 people apply online. Needless to say, we were able to staff both of our locations that we needed to open and fill the void for the shortage of personnel in our other locations that are currently open.”

The Williams offered a $500 cash incentive to anybody who was hired and who was with them for at least 90 days.

“Everybody kept saying, ‘We saw you on the news, we saw you on the news,'” Suheir said. “We really, really appreciate what you did for us. We just had to figure out how to put it up there.”

And for their existing employees, “doing what they can to keep us open, now get a little bit of break, too,” Suheir said. “So it’s perfect.”

A lot of restaurants are facing the same kind of problem, finding people to fill open positions.

“A lot of our friends owned restaurants,'” Suheir said. “And because of how many people started showing up, we call them and said hey, ‘We can’t hire all these people, come here and start interviewing with us.'”

“So anybody who couldn’t work for us also got jobs,” she continued. “So hopefully we can get everybody a job.”

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