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 Despite stiff competition from the likes of We Rock the Spectrum’s sensory gym and the opening of Williamson Inc.’s new office, North Italia took the cake for our best opening event.

Coming to McEwen Northside last July, the national franchise opened with a culinary arts job fair, which proved to be an exceptionally innovative way to not only attract attention from patrons but also to staff the new location. Starting mere weeks before its doors opened to customers, the restaurant opened its doors first to job seekers. The fair was active for 15 semi-consecutive days for eight hours apiece. 

The event was branded as an opportunity to invest in new talent and help build the careers of aspiring chefs, and it doubled as a creative staffing solution during a period when staffing proved most challenging.

Relatedly, this also came amid notorious staffing struggles for restaurants and retailers due to the Great Resignation, which was exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced near the beginning of the year that November 2021 saw a record-breaking quit rate at 3 percent of the national workforce voluntarily leaving their positions, and restaurants in particular are reportedly resorting to unique tactics like signing bonuses in order to fill those positions. Restaurant job listings on ZipRecruiter only averaged about 18 applicants apiece in 2021 compared to 61 in 2019.

North Italia staged its job fair as a series of tryouts from June 16 to July 3 and appealed to not just those seeking employment but, rather, those with legitimate interest in food-industry jobs. Prospective hires were invited to showcase their respective levels of skill in the field.

This was the 27th North Italia locale to open, being one of two restaurants to come to McEwen Northside midsummer 2021, including Shake Shack.