Local Restaurants In Dire Need Of Employees

By Anayeli Ruiz
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The oil boom has created a great economy for West Texas. But restaurants and retail businesses are hurting for employees. Now, some restaurants are bringing in people from other states to fill these jobs.

"It's been extremely hard for us to hire. With the economy doing extremely well, it's a very competitive environment. In the oilfield, their starting wage is higher than what our starting wage is," Mike Lauren, Director of Operations at Pizza Hut, said. 

The oilfield has hurt most retail and restaurant businesses in the area as they can't seem to keep their stores staffed.

"We are not fighting for the sales like the rest of the nation but the rest of the nation is facing 10 percent unemployment. They can get drivers and cooks at a moment's notice. It's harder for us and it's a lot more work to get those employees," Lauren said.

That's why another restaurant chain hosted a recruitment fair on Monday with on site interviews to get more applications in the door.

"We are trying to recruit managers and team members for all of the locations here in the Odessa and Midland markets. We are trying to staff our stores because we are wanting to expand our operations here in the areas," Regional Recruiting Manager, Ernesto Guerrero, said.

Whataburger has been trying to expand and open up three more stores in the area, but just like any other restaurant they are having a hard time holding on to the staff.

"The restaurant industry for someone starting off, jobs are more at $8 to $9 range for employment. If your are offered a job making $9 or $15 dollars an hour in the oilfield, you will make $15," Guerrero said.

That's why other businesses are bringing in people from other states to keep their businesses going. Take for instance, Mike Lauren, was brought to the Basin from Chicago as a Director of Operations for Pizza Hut.

"From different states, from different zones, we brought people in, used corporate apartments to house them while they settle in. The big problem is the crew level and the entry job, we can't bring somebody from Illinois to make pizzas for $8 an hour for us," Lauren said.  

At Monday's Whataburger Job Fair, they offered a free Whataburger for the first 50 applicants at all seven locations.

For more information on the jobs that they are offering, you can visit their website to apply.