‘A Huge Relief': Boston Restaurants Excited for More Customers and Employees

With the prospects of restrictions being lifted and the start of outdoor dining, restaurants in the Boston area are on a hiring spree

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If you drove by Brewers Fork in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood last week, you might have noticed a huge wait for a table. It was the result of a taste of warmer weather.

"The moment that temperature rose, we were full by noon and stayed full till we closed," said Jessica Gooch, the general manager at the restaurant's sister property nearby, Dovetail.

It also meant the first taste of what many restaurants hope will be a promising spring and summer season. Dovetail opened during the pandemic and decided to close its dining room at the end of December.

It has still been able to keep its shop open for takeout, but it's looking forward to reopening to diners in April.

"It's a huge relief," Gooch said, looking ahead to the coming weeks. "We've gone from having to lay off our staff a couple times in one year to really celebrating that we're hiring every position."

That warmer weather jump started a hiring spree at eateries across the city. One industry website lists more than 300 open restaurant positions available right now.

Chef Brian Paszko at Alcove in Boston says what's happening right now with hiring is very unique.

"It's a mix from entry-level to mid-management to executive-style," he said.

Now, these restaurants are competing for customers as well as employees.

"Whether it's post or sous chef or bartender or host, we'll read every resume," said Gooch.

Even under unusual circumstances, restaurants say they're just happy to have jobs to offer.

Hilina Ajakaiye of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau says it is doing everything it can to offer these businesses support, including this year's Dine Out Take Out Boston program.

"Having their workforce coming back is part of why Dine Out Boston is so critical to recovery," Ajakaiye said.

The program is running now through March 28. It offers diners limited-time deals from over 100 restaurants in the area.

In addition, the city expands outdoor dining next week, adding more possibilities to restaurants still needing to follow safety measures, including spacing tables six feet apart.

Gooch says this will have a big impact on Dovetail because it will be able to use a cobblestone walkway as an expanded patio.

"We have so much space to fit as many tables as possible that we're going to almost triple our original capacity than when we opened in December," she said.

Upcoming holidays like Easter and Mother's Day should also help bring in some business. And many say having crowds return to venues like the TD Garden may be a recipe for the business rebound they've been waiting for.

"We're kind of figuring it out on the fly, but it's exciting," said Paszko. "I can tell you that."

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