Eugene restaurants hiring with high signing bonuses

Restaurants have been waiting for months for COVID-19 restrictions to end. But now that business is finally picking up again, they have another problem -- not enough staff.

Posted: Jun 22, 2021 8:10 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Restaurant managers and owners are having a hard time recruiting new workers, and Oregon's unemployment rate is still sitting above 6 percent.

Restaurants have been waiting for months for COVID-19 restrictions to end. But now that business is finally picking up again, they have another problem -- not enough staff.

That's caused places like Elk Horn Brewery to raise their pay and add signing bonuses for new employees.

Owner Stephen Sheehan is offering a $300 bonus to anyone that stays for at least three months.

"The money that we do make, we are giving back in overtime," Sheehan said. "Which I don't care, my employees work hard; they deserve it. But, shoot."

Sheehan said he's also had to trim his hours. He blames government benefits, saying they are too generous. He hopes to encourage those to get back into the workforce.

"There's going to come a day when you're going to need a job, and right now is a great time to come into a lot of these little 'Mom and Pops' and work hard and then create that great future because this is all going to be over soon," he said.

Dickie Jo's Burgers in Eugene has not only had to offer a crazy high signing bonus, but has also had to make the tough decision to close their doors early Tuesday night because of insufficient staff. They are offering a $1,000 signing bonus.

"It's tough times," Co-owner Chad West said.

They need about 25 new employees. He said they plan to keep the offer up for as long as it takes.

"We believe that when the significant federal additional unemployment benefits expire in Oregon -- in September as it stands now -- that there is going to be a lot of folks looking for work again," West said. 

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