- Danielle Jones says her restaurant is fully staffed, even as other restaurants struggle to hire.
- She credits this to paying for her staff to go on vacation twice a year.
- Last year, she took staff to the Bahamas. “They’re worth a week shutdown,” she said.
A restaurant owner in North Conway, New Hampshire, who splashes out on vacations for her staff says she’s not been affected by the labor shortage that’s devastating other restaurants across the US.
Danielle Jones, who owns the Abenaki Trail Restaurant and Pub, told Insider that she spends “a lot” on trips each year, but that was one of the main reasons why she was fully staffed.
“These kids are bringing me back in the money to be able to do it again,” she said. “That’s why I’m doing this, because you need them to stay open.
For a restaurant to stay in business, “you need a good staff,” she added.
Jones said she pays for flights and accommodation for each member of staff to go on a trip within the US each year. This can cost up to $US2,000 ($AU2,791) a head. Recent locations staff have chosen include Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Jones said that also spends around $US10,000 ($AU13,954) a year taking the entire restaurant staff on holiday. She took them on a cruise of the Bahamas in September and has another cruise booked for April.
Jones closes the restaurant while staff are away.
“They’re worth a week shutdown,” Jones said. By paying for the trips she built better relationships with staff and “they want to come to work,” she added.
Jones said she was a “savvy traveler” and used frequent-flyer points and business cards to save money on the trips.
She chooses to pay for her staff to go on trips rather than funneling that money into wages because she said other companies had raised wages “and everyone else doesn’t have staff.”
Jones said entry-level pay for her cooks started at $US17 ($AU24) an hour, with the highest-paid cook earning $US30 ($AU42). Servers make $US5 ($AU7) an hour, which is above the state’s minimum wage for tipped workers of $US3.26 ($AU5), and Jones said that they made between $US1,200 ($AU1,675) and $US1,600 ($AU2,233) a week in tips.
Restaurant workers across the US have been quitting their jobs over wages, working conditions, and unsocial hours. Jones said that she was only aware of one of her employees who’d quit for a better job in the last two years.
A few of her staff had moved from other local restaurants in search of better opportunities, Jones said. Some had worked at two restaurants simultaneously before making the move to just work at the Abenaki Trail.
Jones said other local restaurants started closing on Mondays and Tuesdays in the summer because of lack of staff but the Abenaki Trail didn’t have to.
The restaurant had around 20 employees in summer, falling to around eight in the winter. Jones said that she didn’t lay off anyone during the off-season. Instead, during the summer, she employed staff who had another full-time job and wanted to earn extra cash. One owned a Ben and Jerry’s shop and another owned a dental office.
Jones said that she bought the restaurant eight years ago after working corporate jobs for restaurant chains, which influenced her management style at The Abenaki Trail.
She described herself as an active owner who worked alongside her staff serving drinks, taking orders, and cooking food, and didn’t really act like a boss.
“So they listen, they take in what I’m trying to tell them to do, but then most of it’s just fun,” Jones added.