Now hiring: Hospitality staff shortage as summer nears

Mother's Day is making for a busy weekend at Milwaukee area restaurants, but as people start to dine out again, businesses face a new challenge.

For places like Saz's, which is both a restaurant and a catering business, they are starting to prepare for big events like Summerfest – but struggling to find workers.

Saz's is trying new things like a number of job fairs – and endless mozzarella sticks – to hopefully draw people in. After a year of closures and restrictions, partner Curt Kluth said it's like a switch as turned on in the last month.

"I think people are ready to come back to life, and it’s showing in Milwaukee how excited people are to get back out," Kluth said.

While it's good to see customers coming back, Saz's focus has now turned to getting the employees back.

"I think some of them in the year they had off, they went and moved on to other industries, or they maybe decided to take their summers off," said Kluth.

Saz's Hospitality Group currently has 75 openings and is expected to ramp up to 130 openings as it hires for Summerfest and the Wisconsin State Fair.

"We’ve been more flexible than ever. I think that’s something for us that’s a little bit different. If someone is only available a weekend a month, come on back we’ll use you for that weekend," Kluth said.

Saz's is also offering benefits, like a 401k, and competitive wages. But for host Nadia Kaster, it was the people who brought her back.

"I love hosting because I get to be the first person that people see when they walk in. It’s like you get to be their first impression," said Kaster.

Saz's needs several hundred employees for each day of Summerfest. You'll find "Help Wanted" signs at restaurants all across Milwaukee as a hopefully busy summer nears.

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