Amid financial challenges and mass layoffs across the restaurant industry, The Bartolotta Restaurants on Monday announced plans to hire almost 80 employees at five locations.
Full and part-time positions are now open at Ristorante Bartolotta in Wauwatosa, Mr. B’s in Brookfield, and Bacchus, Lake Park Bistro and Harbor House, all located in Milwaukee. They include bussers, hosts, servers, line cooks, pastry cooks, dishwashers and bartenders.
Current and former employees were notified before the positions were posted online, and they will be given priority interviews, said chef and owner Paul Bartolotta in an interview with BizTimes Milwaukee.
Of the company's 17 Milwaukee-area locations, three restaurants-- Ristorante Bartolotta, Harbor House and Mr. B’s-- have reopened to the public since operations halted from mid-March to early July in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Lake Park Bistro and Bacchus are next, with reopening dates soon to be announced.
Monday's hiring announcement comes as the company continues to strike a balance between operating safely and sustaining the business, all while employing as many people as possible, said Bartolotta.
The goal is to hire from within, but also to tap a growing talent pool for new hires.
"We know there are a lot of people out of work and there's potentially a lot of good talent out there, and we're forever looking for the best people," said Bartolotta.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group employed 950 people. To date, more than 220 salaried and hourly employees have been brought back to work. Last month, the company filed a WARN notice with the state Department of Workforce Development announcing layoff extensions for 268 employees.
Under the U.S. Department of Labor’s WARN Act, employers are required to give notice when a temporary layoff or furlough lasts longer than six months, at the time it becomes reasonably foreseeable that the extension is required. Bartolotta said he's communicated to those employees that he wants them all back, he just doesn't know when.
"We've entered this tunnel and we simply don't know how long it is," he said. "As part of this process, we need to acknowledge that our former employees need to continue to hear from us."