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Nashville hospitality industry struggles to fill staffing needs

Profile Photo By: H L
October 28, 2013

Nashville hospitality industry struggles to fill staffing needs

Cooking Photo: Rainer Sturm  / pixelio.deAn influx of new restaurants and the grand opening of Omni Nashville Hotel have combined to create an unexpected challenge for Nashville?s hospitality industry: hiring quality employees.

Tennessee Hospitality Association President and CEO Greg Adkins said the industry anticipated a bit of a hiring pinch, but the problem has been greater than industry leaders expected.

Culinary and housekeeping staffers are in especially high demand, and some hotels and restaurants are considering applicants without hospitality experience to meet the demand.

And it?s not just customer service staff. Hotels also are having a tough time filling administrative spots, too.

For instance, Loews Vanderbilt is seeking to fill more than 30 vacancies between its hotel and downtown business center operation, according to general manager Tony Phillips.

?With the growth of the hospitality industry in Nashville, all of the hotels are really focused on recruitment,? he said. ?To find the best of the best right now, it?s either go outside of Nashville or go outside the industry to find customer service folks.?

Two factors have created the current environment, where demand is outpacing supply for hospitality jobs. The Omni, which is the anchor hotel for the new downtown convention center, began hiring its operation staff in August and opened its doors this month. The city also has seen a boom in the number of new restaurants coming online, with Husk, Silo, Rolf and Daughters, Music City Tippler, Mason?s and Etch among the popular new openings.

Shortly after Loews completed its $17 million renovation, it was competing with Husk to hire some of the same prospective culinary staffers, Phillips said.

Omni has hired 680 full-time staffers and still has 50 openings, especially in culinary and housekeeping, said Tod Roadarmel, director of sales and marketing.

?First of all, our experience has been good, frankly,? Roadarmel said. ?It?s probably because we?re the new kid in town. We?ve been very happy. We?re still a little short.?

Ray Waters, regional director for Turnberry and Associates, which owns the Hilton and Union Station hotels in downtown Nashville, said the challenge hasn?t been retaining staff, but filling vacancies. He pointed out that the kinds of openings at his hotels and others are not minimum-wage positions.

As restaurateur Randy Rayburn, who owns three Nashville restaurants, put it, ?these aren?t burger-flipping jobs.?

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Source The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com/article/20131024/NEWS01/310240067/Nashville-hospitality-industry-struggles-to-fill-staffing-needs?source=nletter-news

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