Peregian Breeze Café, “Goldie & the Green Grocer” is putting into practice the ‘takes a Village to raise a child’ philosophy to solve a staffing shortage created by COVID and affecting not just their café but the hospitality industry as a whole.
“Goldies” owners, James Fraser and Georgie Lazarus, who’ve spent their lives in hospitality locally and across the world, had just opened their café when COVID hit and borders shut, cutting the usual “awesome influx” of passionate hospitality workers from interstate and overseas.
The couple are no strangers to hard work and running on high energy, but the staffing shortage was taking a toll on everyone.
“During COVID, hospitality suffered a crisis … our team was working ridiculous hours and we know of many businesses that had job ads up for months but no-one to fill them,” Georgie said, adding the problem was exacerbated by a shortage of rental homes so those looking for a change from another state couldn’t easily come.
Rather than getting ‘disenchanted and exhausted’ James, a trained chef with hospitality in his blood having been ‘born in a Pub’ and worked at some of the Coast’s best restaurants including Sum Yung Guys and Bistro C, and Georgie, a ‘hospo’ veteran with a Degree in Marketing and PR, brainstormed to think of a solution and came up with the “Junior Superstars” training program.
“We had an idea. Why not think long-term, hire some juniors, invest in training them well and hopefully we will have solved our staffing issues by this time next year,” Georgie said
“We put out the call for Junior Superstars and we were blown away by the response! We held an info session and 20 kids showed up! We told them all about the good – make friends, work all over the world, the bad – missing birthday parties due to weekend work and the ugly of ‘hospo’ work – cleaning up gross things and the odd occasion of a rude customer and told them to think about whether this sounded good. They all said “Yes”!!” Georgie said.
“We were so inspired by their enthusiasm that we decided to figure out a way to give them all a job.”
“Honestly, the industry needs a shake-up- there is still an ‘old school’ and ‘character building’ tough way of treating staff and the long hours and split-shifts aren’t conducive to a nice life.
“People don’t want to work in an environment like that anymore. We want to make it a great experience, especially for kids just starting out in work,” Georgie said.
Although it’s a small café and paying for the training and work of such a big influx of staff is a huge responsibility, Georgie said she and James are committed to these Juniors and are working hard to design and implement a training program that she says is a unique approach in the hospitality industry where tertiary pathways are well defined, but there’s nothing for young workers starting their first job.
“Our intention is to not only train them in typical ‘junior jobs’ like dishes and polishing cutlery but also get them learning barista skills, food prep, customer service and more to foster an environment for developing the next generation of hospitality professionals.”
Georgie said the benefits of hospitality work ranged from being a job you can travel with you, that can put you through Uni and offer life-skills and life-long friends.
James and Georgie, as parents themselves (of a three year old Goldie, after whom the café is named, and Humphrey, 18-months-old) want to make local kids’ first work experience positive and supportive.
Training has already started with sessions done after hours so all the new team can to mix together (away from the pressure of customers) and at other times the Junior Superstars shine individually on a real café shift themselves with an experienced ‘shift mentor’ by their side to help.
Georgie says as the youngsters complete their rotations through the different aspects of café work she’ll also help them write and update their resume to include the training they have done – with some already showing particular talent and passion for some areas.
“We’re inspired by the enthusiasm of our Juniors,” Georgie said, adding that it’s rewarding for she and James to “give back” to the community and share their knowledge and love of hospitality.
Follow the journey of the “Junior Superstars” at the Goldie and the Greengrocer Facebook page and keep an eye out for the new Goldies’ Evening dinners menus launching soon – visit them at California Boulevard, Peregian Breeze.