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Restaurants Hope Offering Extra Perks Will Attract New Employees

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) -- Despite business picking up at Season to Taste, the Cambridge restaurant will close in mid-June so employees can take a week of paid vacation. While it won't be cheap, owner Robert Harris says it will be money well spent to show appreciation to his staff.

"Honestly it will probably cost about $12,000. That's if you factor in the lost revenue, the opportunity cost, the labor that we're still going to have to pay," said Harris.

As the restaurant industry faces a hiring shortage, others are spending money to attract new employees.

Ryan Jones is the Vice President of Operations of The Lyons Group. At the beginning of May, The Lyons Group started offering referral fees and retention bonuses of up to $1,000 for new hires at their 21 restaurants in the Boston area. After 90 days, if the person qualifies as a full-time employee, they'll receive the bonus. The Lyons Group is also offering 50% off food at any of their venues for employees.

"Whether it's extended unemployment benefits or some people not ready to come back to work yet, we just wanted to put something in place that gave people maybe a little extra push, a little extra incentive to get them in the door," said Jones. "We've got around 1,000 people working for us right now. We're hoping to come close to probably doubling that number over the next two or three months."

"I think we've always valued our employees and they're like family and any restauranteur would tell you that, it's just the business, the nature of it is right now that we're having to show our love just a little bit differently and in different ways," said Bob Luz, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

Season to Taste started doing outdoor patio dining last summer, so the paid vacation time a way of thanking employees for their hard work during a long and taxing year.

"As we were coming to the one-year anniversary I thought it would be great to have a little break. They made the tough decision, 'Do I risk my life to go and continue to work and be in this situation?' And this is my reward to them," said Harris.

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