LEBANON, Tenn (WTVF) — This time last year, Ryan Williams had no choice but to lay off employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But he says he needs them now more than ever.
"The recovery doesn't really start until people really go back to work," Williams said.
Williams, the owner of Cherokee Steakhouse and Marina in Wilson County, says business hasn't been easy. Williams took over the family-style restaurant 18 months ago.
"In the beginning, we thought I made the biggest mistake of my life," he said.
In all, it was the pandemic calling the shots. The restaurant closed down temporarily, but even months later and challenges are still on the menu.
"We saw revenues decrease by over 50%," said Williams. "Getting employees to come into work became more and more difficult. The customer traffic lessened and stopped on occasion which created a whole different set of circumstances."
Williams says many workers came back but says not all of them.
"They are making sometimes more on unemployment than they make in the restaurant or at their job," he said.
He's hoping a bonus can help. "We had to get a little bit creative and we decided to do an incentive bonus plan to try to entice some of those people who were on unemployment or had other circumstances to applying and coming to work," Williams said.
It is a $1,000 sign-on bonus for all new hires.
"Doing a $1,000 bonus is not something we take lightly, it’s not something that's easily done," said Williams.
Cherokee Steakhouse and Marina added a 200 seat patio and an outdoor bar. Williams says they need help inside and out on the patio.
"We have probably 20 openings right now as we speak that we're trying to fill."
Applications and information on the positions are on Cherokee Steakhouse and Marina Facebook page.