Yelp NYC November Event Recap: Get a Handle on Restaurant Hiring

On Tuesday evening, a group of top NYC restaurateurs visited cozy Carroll Place in Greenwich Village to enjoy delicious bites and learn more about the latest restaurant hiring tips and tricks.

Attendees walked away with knowledge about ways restaurants can utilize the latest technology to attract top talent, how to keep current employees motivated and how to create a phenomenal work culture.  

Our Panel:  

  • AJ Bontempo, Owner, Carroll Place
  • Alice Cheng, CEO, Culinary Agents
  • Jenn Walker, Director Employee Relations, Make It Nice
  • Liz Rodriguez, HR Manager, The Dinex Group
  • Matthew Brown, Director, HotSchedules


Yelp’s VP of Restaurant Strategy, Ware Sykes, kicked off the event asking what hiring strategy each panelist used as their “secret trick” in the difficult NYC market. Utilizing current technology, a streamlined interview process, and upward mobility within the workforce were all unanimous answers.

There were four main takeaways from our discussion about how to get a handle on restaurant hiring:

Take advantage of the latest technology to secure top talent: We are past the times of newspaper and Craigslist ads. While in this industry we cannot say goodbye to Craigslist for good, it is crucial to utilize several different job boards and platforms. The panelists all said they use a variety of tools ranging from career fairs, school job boards, Indeed, Culinary Agents, social media, etc, It is important to diversify because applicants are looking everywhere.

Find a system that works your restaurant, don’t make it a full-time job to post jobs.

Create a streamlined interview process: Consistency is key when it comes to interviewing. Be sure to sit down with your management team and define what it is you’re looking for in an ideal candidate. It is important to be aligned with the certain skills you are looking for in a candidate and which questions each interviewee will ask to determine if the candidate is the correct fit. It is also important that each candidate meets with at least two managers and multiple people from the team to get a true sense if the candidate is a correct fit.

Leverage current employees to recruit for you: Referral programs allow you to turn your entire staff into recruiters. Not only does this incentivize your current employees and keep them motivated and excited, it also attracts better talent to your restaurant. Your current employees can be your best job board. Be sure to share those kudos with the employees who are referring candidates and celebrate when someone is hired via a referral, or explain why they weren’t hired so there is full visibility.

Keep your staff motivated and trained: Once an employee is hired, the hard work does not stop there. Promoting from within motivates people to work hard, have a goal in mind, and stay for the long-run. Once an employee is hired it is crucial to have a discussion of where they see their career growing and giving them the tools to success to get there.

Be on the lookout for our upcoming NYC Restauranteur events in 2018!