ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local restaurant company is resorting to hiring bonuses to find workers. Fresquez Companies owns about a dozen restaurants around Albuquerque and in the Sunport. The hiring department says finding employees has been surprisingly challenging even as businesses start to ramp up.

Because they are having such a hard time hiring, they aren’t able to open all of their restaurants just yet. “We’re kind of at this point where we are competing with unemployment to try and get people in,” said Human Resources Director Tamara Gandara.

Fresquez has two Mac’s Steak in the Rough locations. One in Albuquerque and one in Rio Rancho. They also operate 11 restaurants inside the Sunport. Before the pandemic, they had about 500 total employees but had to downsize to 150. As things start to reopen, they are looking to hire cooks, cashiers, and managers.

However, they say it’s been tough, now they’re even advertising a job fair with an enticing offer for new hires. “It’s having us to do recruiting in a different sense than normal. We’re really reaching out to applicants as soon as they apply. We’re offering signing bonuses. A $500 sign-on bonus, we do a referral bonus,” Gandara says.

Those employees have to stay for at least 90 days to receive the hiring bonus. Because they are so short-staffed, only four of the eleven restaurants they run in the Sunport are open for now. “We have delays on opening some of our other restaurants until we’re staffed. So until we can ramp up and ensure that our staffing needs are met. We are kind of at a stopping point right now,” Gandara says.

The job fair is this Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at the Mac’s location in Albuquerque. They are looking to hire people on the spot. If you can’t make the job fair Friday, you can still apply for a job online, with the hiring bonus still on the table.