Chicago restaurants, hotels looking for workers as they reopen

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Now that Chicago ramping up to full reopening, the hospitality industry is desperately seeking people who want to work.

Many hotels in the city and nationwide are having trouble finding enough employees to meet the demand of reopening.

"It's a labor shortage at every level," said Bob Habeeb of Maverick Hotels. "It's not just housekeepers, bartenders and servers, there's a shortage of managers."

Habeeb said when the hospitality industry came to a screeching halt in 2020, workers couldn't afford to wait for hotels to reopen.

"I spoke with someone who was a long time manager at Hilton, for example, and she told me she went to work for Amazon," he said.

Many left the industry, or even left the state.

"They've gone to Florida, Texas, Tennessee or Wisconsin, where other markets remained open during the pandemic," said Adam Gurgiolo, general manager of Hotel Monico.

Housekeeping and restaurant staff remain the biggest needs right now, according to Gurgiolo. The Sable Hotel at Navy Pier said to recruit staff it is looking at raising wages and benefits. Right now, the Sable pays housekeepers between $20 and $23 an hour.

While some companies are using financial incentives to attract employees, the Fifty/50 restaurant group is mandating the vaccine for all its employees. When the company made the announcements, applications began to flow in.

"We feel like we are ahead of the curve and feel like we are doing a good job of getting our places staffed," said John Aldape.

Whatever it takes to get staff back, hotels and restaurants are in a hurry. Owners and managers predict a record breaking summer with so much pent up demand to finally get out and have fun.
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