COVID-19 Philadelphia: Hotel and restaurant industries prepare for return of workforce after pandemic

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – A handful of hopeful people walked inside the Valley Forge Casino Resort on Thursday with the odds strongly in their favor.

Not for gambling, but rather for a high paying job.

“Every empty seat here is potential work?” George Solis of Action News asked. “Correct,” responded Gina Mancino, vice president of marketing for Valley Forge Casino Resort.

Forty positions, with a handful of jobs in each of them, were up for grabs during this job fair aimed at rebuilding a workforce severely affected by the pandemic.

“We took the time to take pictures of our employees in these roles to see what the uniforms look like,” Mancino said.

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Also on Thursday, a job fair – a “huttepooloza” to be exact – was Philadelphia’s iconic restaurant, Chickie’s and Pete’s.

“We want people who want to work,” said CEO Sean McGranaghan. “We are trying to increase our workforce in order to welcome our customers as well as possible,” he added.

Alaya Wilson, 20, took advantage of the event, which included free signature crab fries after the interview – not to mention a $ 200 sign-up bonus.

“It’s easier to find a job now,” Wilson said.

The Action News data journalism team found that between February and March of this year, more than 200,000 people were unemployed in the greater Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area.

Before the pandemic, those numbers were around less than 160,000 people.

“The industry went through two rounds of layoffs and it was so difficult,” said restaurateur Nicole Marquis.

Marquis has pledged a minimum wage of $ 15 for employees at its many downtown restaurants, including HipCityVeg and Bar Bombon.

“We are really able to focus even more on providing careers, rather than just jobs,” said Marquis.

Hotels are also trying to fill jobs as the city opens up.

“We’re just seeing the occupancy rate go up more and more,” said Ed Grosse, CEO of the Great Phila Hotel Association.

But unlike restaurants, they aren’t bringing back staff yet, at least not until the city has fully reopened.

“We need to have a definitive date when things will be completely reopened,” Grosse added.

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