The restaurant industry lost 5.5 million jobs in the U.S. in April based on recent reports. Scores of restaurants have closed, some temporarily and some could shutter permanently, and many jobs—kitchen staff, servers, bartenders—have been furloughed or laid off.
At Papa John’s though, franchises have been staffing up.
In late March 2020, Papa John’s announced that it was hiring 20,000 new restaurants employees nationwide. “For anyone looking for immediate ways to earn an income, we’re making it quick and simple to apply, interview and be hired at Papa John’s,” said Marvin Boakye, its chief people and diversity office.
Papa John’s stock price had already been on a roll. Since February 19 through early June, its stock has soared 70% in value.
Papa John’s, the fourth largest pizza chain in the country after Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut and Little Caesars Pizza, said that in order to protect its employees’ safety, it has introduced “enhanced restaurant sanitation measure and no contact delivery.”
Consumers are turning to pizza chains like Papa John’s for quick pick-up and delivery, and that has triggered more hiring, not cutbacks.
For example, Jordan Dorsch, a Papa John’s franchisee and president of Jordan, Nicholas, Elliott Inc., which owns 24 retail outlets in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota area in Florida, has stepped up hiring a variety of employees including delivery drivers, pizza makers and management.
Since March 17, when restaurants in Florida were told to suspend sit-down dining, his Papa John’s outlets have hired 195 employees.
Dorsch noted that Papa John’s restaurants were deemed “essential” and permitted to stay open, and its takeout and delivery model enabled it to flourish when many sit-down eateries were stymied.
Dorsch attributed the take-out and delivery spike in sales to pizza being viewed as “comfort food. People are used to it, and they go to what they know at uncertain times.”
After many people gravitated to buying bulk items at grocery stores, ordering pizza provided a break from cooking and a return to some semblance of normalcy. Dorsch added that nibbling on pizza often entails social dining at home, which again, comforts people during a crisis.
Dorsch acknowledges that they’ve seen a dramatic spike in applicants due to the rising unemployment and slowdown in the restaurant industry. “There’s a lot more labor out there,” he acknowledged.
Due to the rise in unemployment, Dorsch recommended that applicants show initiative. He’s pursuing people who “don’t wait around. I’d be calling people saying, ‘Did you receive my resume? I’d love to show you what I can do.’”
Furthermore delivery drivers might stem from any background. He’s hired metal fabricators, who saw a slowdown in their business, and one medical personnel, who was laid off.
“Delivery drivers are the lifeblood of the business. You can have a delivery business without a manager, but you can’t have it without the delivery driver,” noted Dorsch.
For the most part, Dorsch is looking more for attitude than specific pizza experience. He says an ideal candidate for any of these positions must be “willing to learn and works well on a team.”
Once they’re hired, employees have a potential career path to “team member, shift manager, and general manager,” Dorsch explained.
Does Dorsch see hiring slackening off now that he has hired 195 employees? “It’s hard to project when this pandemic will stop.” But he added, “We always need good people, pandemic or not.”
And he added, “There’s always turnover, even in a pandemic.”