Folsom needs workers.
That’s why Deputy Mayor Sarah Aquino took a part-time job last week. An elected official and a full-time insurance broker now meet at the Back Bistro bus tables four days a week for minimum wage.
“I saw a lot of help-seeking signs on social media and around the city, and noticed that a lot of my favorite places to eat, like the Back Bistro, have had to reduce their hours of operation.” , Aquino said in an interview with The Bee. . “And I’ve heard a lot of companies say that we don’t need you to send us business, we need you to send people to us.”
Aquino said he saw Back Bistro owner Jeff Back post on social media that the restaurant needed help.
“I gave him a call,” she said.
The move earned him national recognition last week when Fox News featured Aquino on his morning show, Fox and Friends.
But Aquino’s new work highlights a larger local problem: the desperate need for labor at many of Folsom’s restaurants, hotels and retail businesses.
Mary Ann McAlea, senior vice president of the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, said the labor shortage has prompted many local businesses to cut hours or services.
“Small contributions really make a difference,” she said. “Working a small number of hours makes the difference between being a successful business and not and it’s definitely a high priority for the chamber. Small businesses must thrive as this is the single biggest indicator of the health of the community as a whole.
Aquino said she works 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and sometimes Tuesday when she doesn’t have to attend a city council meeting. The schedule allows her to continue doing her full-time job and meeting her other commitments, she said.
“It’s now part of my social life,” she said with a laugh.
She begins her shift by checking reservations to see who is coming that day. She helps by seating guests and clearing tables. Although she has no restaurant experience, she said she was able to learn the ropes in a short time.
“The response has been positive,” she said. “People have contacted me to express their interest in working. ”
McAlea said the Folsom Chamber of Commerce has launched a program called Our Community Works, which is touted as a “hyper-local solution to a national problem” to better connect residents to available employment opportunities.
The goal, McAlea said, is to consolidate open positions at Folsom companies – primarily in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries – and to use social media and email to connect these jobs to community members who wish to land a part-time job. .
“We want to create more awareness,” McAlea said. “Whether it’s a retiree or a student, or someone who wants to work a small number of hours. We want to think outside the box on how to keep businesses open and healthy until the job market balances out a bit. “
Businesses in need of staff can visit Our Community Works to fill out a form listing their staffing needs. The jobs will be included in a job board to be published in January.
“It should be a good thing where you want to go out in your community and want to support a small business,” McAlea said. “It’s something very concrete that is needed.
This story was originally published 3 December 2021 3:17 pm.