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Help Wanted: First Coast businesses face challenges in hiring workers during pandemic

Sneakers Sports Grille in Jacksonville Beach is hosting a job fair Tuesday and Wednesday.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — You can call it a sign of the times. Restaurant owners in Jacksonville Beach are trying to find the right recipe to reach more workers.

"I would tell them now is the best time to get out there and work," said Matt Wander.

He works at Sneaker Sports Grille. It is a job he started during the pandemic. 

However, he knows of others who chose not to work and are collecting a $600 a week unemployment check. 

"Although they do understand there are opportunities out there, they feel now at this moment they will never have the opportunity to sit on the couch and make a certain amount of money, which is unfortunate," Wander told First Coast News. 

Sneakers, like many other places, is hiring. It has been a challenge not only getting people in the door but keeping them on the payroll. 

"He had a better offer which was a little disturbing because we were paying him at the top of our pay scale," said College Kogos.  

She is the restaurant's marketing director and says one recent hire lasted just one day before bouncing to another business.

For the first time in 20 years, Kogos is paying to boost her help wanted ads on social media.  

Credit: Courtesy: Sneakers Sports Grille
The marketing director for Sneakers Sports Grille starting paying to boost help wanted ads on social media to attract new employees.

"We would typically have a wait for people who wanted to work here," Kogos recalled. "I think we will have to change the way we recruit and I think we will have to change how we retain employees."

"For the business, we have here, we well exceed a $1,200 paycheck," Wander said. "We are doing numbers here that are typically seen in football season."

Sneakers is hosting its own job fair Tuesday and Wednesday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are looking to hire all positions, including managers.