Skip to comments.Uber for Restaurant Hiring: A New Service Offers Servers and Cooks On Demand
Posted on 08/22/2018 1:11:09 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
A food runner calls out last-minute for a busy Saturday night. That might seem like small potatoes to anyone who hasnt worked in the restaurant industry, but its the kind of situation that can throw serviceand your dining experienceinto disarray. These are the kinds of problems that Snag Work is designed to solve. An Arlington-based branch of the Richmond company launched in DC two months ago with a model thats like Uber for restaurant hiring, providing on-demand, front-and-back of house staff to employers in need.
The web-based platform, which is expanding to the Washington suburbs soon, currently fills nearly 2,000 shifts per month at 130 restaurants and bars, ranging from fast food chains like Five Guys to more upscale hospitality operations like Neighborhood Restaurant Group (ChurchKey, BlueJacket).
The process is designed to be speedy. Job-seekers fill out an online application and are vetted through an interview with Snags team of former restaurant managers and other industry vets. Theyre then eligible to be matched with shifts based on their availability and qualificationsa process that Snag reports takes an average of five minutes, and typically less than 24 hours. After the shift is complete, workers are paid within 48 hours. The two entities also rate each other based on the experience and performance, which helps drive matches in the future.
Similar to Uber, theres surge pricing of sorts. Snags baseline pay is the minimum wage in any given area, though prices can fluctuate based on supply and demand. A mixologist, like the black cars of the Snag world, may demand more than a busser, while a restaurant in an emergency situation can offer more to fill shifts last-minute. Prices can also vary during surge times like Restaurant Week or holidays. Though Snag workers can end up being more expensive on average for a businessespecially after the company charges a small percentage feeits worth the extra cost to some.
Its been a lifesaver at Bluejacket, especially in baseball season, because theres always something going on and somebody not making it in, says Erik Bergman, Director of Operations for Neighborhood Restaurant Group. He also uses Snag workers at sister spots like the Partisan and Sovereign to fill positions that are the nuts and bolts of the operationbussers, food runners, dishwashers, and silverware polishers.
Its unheralded work, but its like water or clean silverware on the table, says Bergman. You dont think about it until you dont have it.
Bergman hasnt hired Snag staff to fill more skilled positions like servers or line cooks, because the training for those positions are complex, multi-day processes at NRG (by comparison, Snag staff get a 20-ish minute briefing). Still, he says its been an effective, if short-term solution to the shortage of restaurant workers in Washingtons booming market. Whereas NRGs full- and part-time employment ads on job finding sites like Poached or Culinary Agent sometimes go unanswered, Snag shifts are often grabbed within hours. Gigs can also become more permanent. Restaurants often rehire the same Snag worker over and over again, and may bring them on the payroll if the opportunity arises.
Viyas Sundaram, Snags chief revenue officer, envisions a new kind of labor force for the restaurant industry where a large, flexible pool of hourly workers fill on-demand positions like Tetris pieces. He sees an increasing number of professionals, from media freelancers to students and parents, who view a series of part-time jobs as a full-time occupation in the gig economy.
Its a lifestyle choice, says Sundaram. We initially thought of the product as people looking to supplement their income. But now you have a generation who want to call their livestheir food when they want it, their job when they want it.
“Viyas Sundaram, Snags chief revenue officer, envisions a new kind of labor force for the restaurant industry where a large, flexible pool of hourly workers fill on-demand positions like Tetris pieces. He sees an increasing number of professionals, from media freelancers to students and parents, who view a series of part-time jobs as a full-time occupation in the gig economy. “
IOW: Cheapskate restaurant owners?
Also, it might be a way for somebody to find a permanent job. If you do good work, the restaurant owner might say "You're hired" and then call the guy who called out sick three of the past four Friday nights and say "You're fired."
It might work out the way you say, or it might depress journeyman chef wages and give many restaurant’s uneven food quality. It will be interesting to see which way it goes.
Chefs aren’t in the mix here according to the article.
I have to agree with you about kitchen staffing, servers could possibly step in BUT even then having to learn the menu and KNOW where things are can really slow down service!! Then there is ALWAYS the fact that MANY customers return BECAUSE they KNOW the team members AND like them!!! I was in the restaurant business my entire life AND I would NEVER have used Uber type help for my businesses!!!
Also, it might be a way for somebody to find a permanent job. If you do good work, the restaurant owner might say “You’re hired”
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You are 100% correct.
Back in the day, (pre a ‘Mexican’ on every corner), the ‘boyz’ would hang out in different locations and the local contractors would stop by and pick up day laborers as needed.
I had used the service on occasion and even found a few good laborers that I hired full time.
Of course, the slacker that would pick up the guys and not pay or under pay wouldn’t last as the ‘community’ was small enough that the guys knew who to ‘trust’ and not.
It worked for everyone as small companies always didn’t need a bunch of supernumeraries hang around and those that didn’t want to ‘commit’ on a daily basis could work when they wanted.
Kind of ran hand in hand when most ANYONE that you chose could baby sit for you while parents worked but government interference brought an end to these practices.
The era I am referring to also didn’t allow people to go on welfare rolls because they felt like it and you didn’t get to draw a lifetime of SocSec benefits because your toe hurt or one was a junkie or a drunk...
PROgress.....Means Moving ahead...(not always to the better)
so I guess CONgress means falling behind.
The word “cooks” is in the article title.
But employees banging in sick or not showing up is a big problem in the service industry. Having this "on demand" temp service will plug the holes and smooth out the workload so that your Saturday night is not a total train wreck because half your waitstaff called out (it happens).
I remember being in a restaurant with my wife one night and this poor girl was waiting the entire restaurant all by herself. It wasn't a huge restaurant but there was close to 20 tabletops and she was all alone. Some of the other customers were giving her grief and she was almost in tears. We wanted to get up and give her a hand. She did a great job overall given the circumstances and we left her a 50% tip.
I see your point.
And, the interviewed restaurant using this outfit’s services sees it the same way. They hire lower level employees, but not cooks, for exactly the reasons I expressed. Maybe the business will primarily provide lower staff as it settles into it’s steady state.
This sounds like the usual “it looks good on paper” idea dreamed up by someone not doing the grunt work involved.
From my memory of restaurant work it won’t be easy to make this work. Restaurants all have a culture. They do things differently. Simply knowing where to find items is an adventure.
I must have been in the pre-flair era.
Wonder if you can request Russ Meyer waitresses?
I just hope they don’t prepare the meal in the shower.
I’d have to go running for the Phisohex.
I think not. You don't know who is preparing your food. Your food is why people come - unless you have a great view
In HS, there were just three workers running a little hole in the wall. One cook, a sometime dishwasher and a waitress to cover about a dozen tables and the counter stools. It was always full during lunch. I waitressed on the weekends during the early morning coffee drinkers and the lunch crowd. It wasn’t a big deal.
This is a terrible idea. The restaurants that use this will suffer uneven quality in both food prep and Customer service. It also treats people as Tetris blocks...interchangeable parts. Im this model, there are no outstanding people. There are just warm bodies performing the same job. The only are where this is beneficial is chain fast food industry. If youve made one Big Mac you can make them anywhere.
It’s fine if they’re only taking out the garbage and washing dishes. No food prep or around customers.
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