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New App Seeks To Match Workers With Restaurants That Are Hiring

Tony Schinella

HAMPTON, NH — Anyone who has been watching the economy knows that restaurant employees are very difficult to find right now.

Competition for workers, and the rising wages that have come with it, has made it so that even entry-level workers, who just a couple of years ago were earning the minimum wage, or slightly above, are now often seeing double that when they walk in the door. The competition for workers, too, has led to employers spending a lot of time attempting to find people to fill positions. Some of the traditional ways of finding employees — classified ads in a newspaper, a sign on the lawn, or even Craigslist are not drawing applicants to positions.

Enter Fliptable, a new cellphone app that connects employers, specifically restaurants and food establishments, with potential new employees.

The company, which likens itself to “Bumble for the restaurant industry,” has more than 100 restaurants using its technology to hire employees. After a successful launch in Burlington, Vermont, Fliptable moved into New Hampshire — with nearly two dozen eateries already signed up. The model is subscription-based — the restaurants pay to use the app while the job applicants are able to communicate with the business for free.

Kati Pittendreigh, the front-of-house manager for Galley Hatch Restaurant in Hampton, has been using the app for a few weeks and likes its ease of functionality. Working her way up during the past eight years at the restaurant, which has been in the same location off Route 1 and owned by the same family for more than five decades, she knows a bit about the industry. And Pittendreigh said, finding workers, had been difficult — but nothing she has seen recently.

“(Employees) come in waves,” she said. “When I’m fully staffed, I get applications. Now that fall is starting, I’m losing some of the kids who are going off to college. Right now, we’re desperate. (And) everyone who wants a job can get one.”

Hampton, too, being a beach town, means that while there are regulars, the bulk of the foot traffic is seasonal. Pittendreigh is hoping when some of the other businesses in town close for the season, workers will apply.

Wages at Galley Hatch, which is known for its seafood but also its full-service bakery (Kay’s Café & Bakery), weekend prime rib, and other items, have also increased like every other business. Pittendreigh, who needs kitchen staffers, badly, said wages have gone up to between $12 and $20 an hour, depending on the experience. During the past few weeks using Fliptable, she has found several candidates, and at least a few look like possible fits for the restaurant.

“I think that people finding the app and getting it will help,” Pittendreigh said. “I think the idea of it is great. It is easy to use. If I get people to respond, I get interviews out of it.”

Previously, Pittendreigh said, she used Indeed and Facebook, as well as walk-ins. But those traditional forms of employee recruiting “were not panning out.” She added, “Indeed is usually better. The biggest problem has been that less than half the people who reply respond or show up for the interview.” After spending all that time recruiting, it gets frustrating and Pittendreigh has other responsibilities, too. With Fliptable though, “I can jump right on my phone. I put in some details … It is really easy.”

Other restaurants in Patch communities using the app include Beefside Restaurant in Concord, the Manchester Country Club in Bedford, and Sky Meadow Country Club in Nashua.

As a promotion for its New Hampshire launch, Fliptable is giving 25 job seekers who apply via the app and get hired by a participating restaurant a $250 bonus after 15 days of employment.

Anyone who downloads the app and completes a restaurant or job seeker profile will have a chance to win $1,000 until the drawing closes on Aug. 31, according to the company.

For more information, visit the company’s website, linked here.