Scramble for jobs as restaurants boost staff


VENUES across the state are popping open the champagne with the news of Queensland's borders reopening and a changing of the rules on diner numbers at eateries.

Simon Gloftis of Hellenika at The Calile and SK Steak and Oyster, both in Fortitude Valley, said yesterday's state government announcement to let in interstate travellers (except for Victorians) and remove caps of 100 patrons per venue was "amazing". His two hospitality venues will reopen on Wednesday after being closed for three months, and he said the new guidelines would have significant financial benefits.

"It is as simple as the difference between losing money and making money; it is absolutely amazing news," Mr Gloftis said.

The new rules allow one diner per 2sq m at small venues and one patron per 4sq m at large venues. For Mr Gloftis it means he'll be able to operate his venues at much closer to capacity, with 200 people allowed at Hellenika - double of that under the previous rule.

The news of the state's border reopening is also "huge" for the restaurateur, with his eateries inside the glamorous The Calile Hotel.

"This is going to be big for us; it's really good. It will fill the gaps," he said. "In the middle of winter stuck in South Australia, where else would you rather be than at The Calile in sunny Brisbane."

While venues are celebrating the good news, it has also left many scrambling to find new staff and being overwhelmed by applicants.

New staff member Maddison Brennan and Simon Gloftis owner of Hellenika and SK Steak and Oyster at the Calile Hotel. Picture: Josh Woning)
New staff member Maddison Brennan and Simon Gloftis owner of Hellenika and SK Steak and Oyster at the Calile Hotel. Picture: Josh Woning)

Restaurant and Catering CEO Wes Lambert said he had members who had received 800 applications for a basic restaurant job.

"We have heard from members that in recruiting for mid-level and senior-level positions, they have been receiving hundreds of applications as unemployment continues to remain high," he said.

"What this also shows is that there's going to be a skills issue in matching jobs with employees. We need State and Federal Government to fund micro-credentials in order to bridge the skills gap caused by closing the borders."

Mr Gloftis said he had just employed about 50 new staff across his two venues after many returned to their interstate or overseas homes during lockdown, with an ad for a commis chef attracting around 500 applicants.

Madison Brennan, 19, is one of Hellenika's newest employees after losing her job at Brisbane's I Heart Brownies during coronavirus. Unable to claim JobKeeper because she was employed for less than a year, she had been searching desperately to find work.

"I've been three months now without a job and when I saw Hellenika was hiring I was so excited," said the waitress, who is also studying law and business at university.

"It will be nice to have some money coming back in and being able to work is a big part of my life."

Originally published as Scramble for jobs as restaurants boost staff