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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Strong

City Rolls Out Two Programs to Stem Restaurant Staffing Crisis

One warm night last week I headed to one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants. Restaurant bars were finally open for sitting and lingering, and I wanted to sit at one and have a cocktail with my friend Anne. But when we got there we were offered a table for our cocktail —the bar was closed —not enough staff. Then last night I was at a place I love in the city that I had not visited in a year. I was chatting with the chef who had been trying to open a second restaurant since before the pandemic. I figured he'd have opened it by now, but no. He had not. And he cannot because he does not have enough staff.

This is not just a few places — it's EVERYWHERE. Talk to anyone in the restaurant business these days and the first thing they'll say is, "I need a chef/server/waiter/busser/runner/cook." Whether a product of the arts being on hiatus, continued unemployment benefits, city flight, or some combination of all of the above, there just are not enough bodies for restaurants to run and run well.

Help is on the way. The city's Food & Beverage Industry Partnership, part of its NYC Dept. of Small Business Services, run by former Good chef and owner Steven Picker, has created a couple of promising programs to help support restaurants and their staffing needs. The first is Hospitality Hire—a free recruiting and employee-employer matching service run in connection with the city's WorkForce1 program. There are webinars this week to get employers up to speed on how to take advantage of this program. See more on that below.

The second is a line cook training program called First Course that will launch in September. If you'd like your restaurant to participate in this training and hiring program, you can sign up. More info below.


A new initiative to help meet the immediate staffing needs of restaurant businesses citywide. The campaign has two goals: (1) to make more NYC restaurant operators aware of existing WF1 hospitality-specific, no-cost recruitment services, and (2) to let NYers know that restaurants are back to full operation, are looking for workers across all positions, and to generate interest among NYers not currently employed in seeking good jobs/careers in the NYC restaurant industry. Employer informational webinars scheduled for:

Thursday, June 24

Tuesday, June 29

Thursday, July 8

Register here.


FIRST COURSE NYC has been developed in response to industry demand for qualified entry-level line cooks. This culinary apprenticeship model trains qualified New Yorkers, in collaboration with respected NYC restaurant partners, and connects them to quality entry-level line cook jobs with clear pathways to advancement and higher wages. By strengthening the talent pipeline with a focus on equity, the program will help to meet the growing line cook shortage and close the skills gap. To become involved please email Please put FIRST COURSE NYC in the subject line, if possible.

Hope these programs turn out to be helpful. Please share widely!

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