Calling all seniors: Go back to work, your country's restaurants need you

There are a number of articles about the current labor pool or the lack of the labor pool. It has been nearly impossible to fill 50% of the job openings at many restaurants across the country. I'm going to make a statement that applies to many but not all in the job market today ... young people are not showing up.

I have participated in job fairs where interviews are scheduled days in advance. Every scheduled appointment is confirmed the day prior to the event and then no one shows up. I have done interviews, hired the person on the spot, worked out their schedule and then they don't show up.

Utilizing that same scenario, the individual comes to work, works for an hour or two and then walks out never to be heard from again.

I'm done whining and I think I can solve the problem by reaching out to the mature generation who, like myself, knows what it is to show up on time, work hard, enjoy interacting with guests and staff alike and then do it again the next day. Seniors, it's time to step up and save the hospitality industry and have a great time doing it.

You might be saying to yourself, "I would like to help but not on a full-time basis." Well, that's perfect because the restaurant/hospitality business is built on utilizing a part-time staff.

You might be thinking, "I don't have any experience." Fantastic, we're an industry that lives to train great people and we want to train you.

Lastly, you might be asking yourself, "Why would I do this?" Because it's fun, it's exciting, you are going to make some great friends, you are going to enjoy yourself.

Let's look a few things you can do:

• Be a host:

The host position is incredibly important to every restaurant. Many have said that the host position is the single most important position. It's not about greeting the guest, it is about welcoming the guest, making the guest comfortable and excited about the experience they are about to enjoy.

The host is the "face" of the restaurant and a guest may actually leave without ever dining because of that experience. However, you can create that opposite experience as guests may come back because of you.

• Be a prep cook:

Everyone loves having good knife skills, and now is a chance to learn how the professionals do it. This is a job of instant gratification. You get to turn vegetables and fruit into art as well as supporting everyone in the kitchen with the products that you have prepared.

Most kitchens are thrilled to have someone in this key support role on a part-time basis. Many senior prep cooks come in at 7 a.m. and are finished by 11 a.m., so they have the rest of the day to enjoy.

• Learn garde manger:

We are at that age where we have a little more time to enjoy with friends. Imagine getting paid to learn garde manger and then showing off your new skills. Garde manger actually means "keeper of the food," which means that you will be the main person that everyone in the kitchen comes to for the cold food that you and your team have prepared. Again, a great part-time position where you get to use those new skills at work and at home.

I fell in love with the restaurant industry when I worked as a dishwasher at age 15. This has been my career and at 63 I'm as excited now each day when I go to work as I was way back then.

One of the greatest benefits is that you have a fully satisfying job at your convenience and at the end of your shift, you are done. No work to take home, no stress, and the only thing you will be thinking about is what you want to learn tomorrow and how to spend the extra cash.

Seniors, we need you to step in and step up and save our restaurants. Pick up that spatula and march into the hospitality industry.

• Izzy Kharasch is president and founder of Hospitality Works, Inc., a bar and restaurant consulting company in Bannockburn. Over the last 30 years, Kharasch has helped more than 700 food service operations worldwide improve their operations and profits. He can be reached at (224) 688-3512 and

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