‘Had calculator out to see if they’d get more JobKeeper’


Queenslanders are turning their noses up at hospitality jobs with the industry experiencing a massive workforce shortage, despite the state having the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Restaurant and cafe owners claim they simply cannot find enough staff to fill roles, saying lucrative JobSeeker and Jobkeeper payments make it too enticing for workers to stay home.

Sunshine Coast restaurateur Tony Kelly, behind Rice Boi, Rice Boi Beer Garden, Spero, Market Bistro and Giddy Geisha said finding staff for this five venues had been a nightmare.

"I've had people sit in front of me with a calculator and work out the hours and whether they'd get paid more on Jobseeker," he said.

"People are getting paid too much to sit on the couch."

Restaurateur Tony Kelly.
Restaurateur Tony Kelly.

He believed the government financial initiatives had wiped out the casual market of people who previously worked 10 to 15 hours per week, as they could now earn the same or more without leaving the house.

Amelia Miletic, owner of One Fish Two Fish in Brisbane's Kangaroo Point, agreed.

"People either just don't want to work or actually, more accurately, only want to work five to eight hours a week so their Jobseeker isn't affected," she said. "No one is interested in working nights or weekends so that makes it pretty hard to run a restaurant."

Mrs Miletic said it had taken her eight months to fill a head chef role, and was still looking for waitstaff, with only two out of 10 people showing up for job interviews.

"I have a full-time job, two companies and on the weekend I work in the restaurant because there are no staff," she said.

One Fish Two Fish restaurant owner Amelia Miletic, with husband Daniel, says finding staff is near impossible. Picture: Adam Head
One Fish Two Fish restaurant owner Amelia Miletic, with husband Daniel, says finding staff is near impossible. Picture: Adam Head

The problem has only been exasperated by a lack of foreign workers and visa holders, who usually comprise up to 30 per cent of the casual hospitality workforce.

John Gambaro from Gambaro Seafood, Persone and Black Hide Steakhouses in Brisbane agreed, said the lack of overseas staff had made it incredibly difficult to fill positions at his restaurants.

"We haven't got those wonderful people who travel through, the working holiday visas from France and Italy that bring a flair," he said. "I think we'll have to employ on attitude and we'll teach you the rest."

John Gambaro says he has to hire on an attitude basis rather than skills to help fill position. Picture: Richard Walker
John Gambaro says he has to hire on an attitude basis rather than skills to help fill position. Picture: Richard Walker

Mrs Miletic agreed and said it wasn't feasible for restaurants to hire unskilled waitstaff

when they had to pay them almost $30 an hour on a Sunday with penalty rates, and almost $40 an hour for a person to train them.

"The mentality is going to have to be training from scratch if as an industry the shortages will ever improve," she said.

While the Queensland unemployment rate sits at 7.5 per cent, Restaurant and Catering Australia data shows that in some regions there is only one qualified applicant per 10 positions.

The Ghanem Group, behind Donna Chang, Blackbird Bar & Grill, Boom Boom Room Izakaya, Byblos and Lord of the Wings, has been struggling to recruit qualified staff locally for its venues, and have been forced to look interstate to fill roles.

The group has just hired accomplished Melbourne chef Tim Young, who has worked in Michelin starred restaurants in Europe and Victoria's prestigious fine diner Matilda 159 Domain, to join the fold.

Chef Tim Young at Blackbird Bar & Grill, has moved from Melbourne to Brisbane after being hired by the Ghanem Group. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Chef Tim Young at Blackbird Bar & Grill, has moved from Melbourne to Brisbane after being hired by the Ghanem Group. Picture: Liam Kidston.

"The decision was to have a consistent income with a great company and work for a close friend and colleague who I've respected for so long (in Ghanem Group executive chef Jake Nicolson) or continue to slog it out in Melbourne and have unreliable income and uncertainty, so the decision was pretty easy," Mr Young said of moving to Queensland.

"So far I've really enjoyed it … and we've not looked back at all from our move."




Bar/wait staff

Brewhouse Brisbane, Woolloongabba

Seeking casual bar/wait staff member with at least one year experience to work 15 to 30 hours per week. Must hold a current RSA.

Pay: $25-$29.99 per hour.



Head Barista

Industry Beans, Newstead

Looking for an experienced head barista, with at least two years experience, to run coffee program. Must have excellent latte art skills, be able to operate a variety of different machines across multiple brewing styles, with an RSA advantageous.



Bar, Wait and TAB Staff

Caxton Hotel, Petrie Terrace

Seeking casual bar and waitstaff with a minimum six months experience in a busy bar or restaurant. Must have RSA and RSG (or willingness to obtain one). Flexible work over seven day roster, with night and weekend work.



Kitchen Hand - all rounder assistant

Rosalie Gourmet Market, Rosalie

The position is casual and would offer 3-5 shifts a week with casual part-time hours and would include one weekend shift each week. Duties include cleaning, preparation of food for chefs, preparation of sandwiches, packing and labelling.

Pay: $20-$29.99 per hour



Bar manager , Sous chef, commis chef, chef de partie and waitstaff

Ghanem Group, Brisbane

The restaurant group is hiring various positions from a sous chef with a minimum 10 years experience to a bar manager with a strong knowledge of wine, cocktails and spirits with a RMLV.



Hospitality Professional

I Heart Brownies, Maroochydore

This is a permanent part-time position, 15-20 hours per week, and applicants must be available to work weekdays, some weekend days and some public holidays. Must be a dessert lover and an experienced barista.



Assistant Manager

Giddy Geisha, Maroochydore

Seeking a highly motivated and experienced assistant manager with the potential for career progression and a flexible roster.



Casual Chefs & Breakfast Chef

Season Restaurant, Noosa

Looking for experienced casual and breakfast chefs with a commitment to learning and exceeding guest expectations.

Email here


Bar Manager

Mamasan Kitchen + Bar, Broadbeach

A full-time position available for an experienced bar manager with minimum two years experience in a similar role. Must have high volume cocktail experience, good product knowledge and hold an RSA.

Email here


Assistant Restaurant Manager

Balboa Italian, Palm Beach

Looking for a committed professional with previous experience managing or supervising high-volume, high-end restaurants. This is a salaried position operating on a 5 day roster.



Bartender & All-Rounder

Granddad Jack's Craft Distillery, Miami

Join this award-winning gin distillery behind the bar. Must have an RSA and be 18-plus. Experience not necessary but helpful.



Bar Staff

Watermark Townsville

Must have a minimum of three years experience in busy venues, a good knowledge of cocktails and current RSA.

Email here


Cocktail Bar Attendant

Coco's Bar, Pullman, Cairns

Must have RSA, extensive knowledge of wine, beer and cocktails, barista skills and flexibility to work a seven-day rotating roster.










Originally published as 'Had a calculator out to see if they'd get more from JobKeeper'

Major manufacturer plans to build new facility

Premium Content Major manufacturer plans to build new facility

One of Australia’s largest door manufacturers has been granted approval for a huge...

PM announces veteran suicides royal commission

Premium Content PM announces veteran suicides royal commission

In a breakthrough for veterans and their families, Scott Morrison is set to...

Plans to turn road into dead end for fiveways upgrade

Premium Content Plans to turn road into dead end for fiveways upgrade

The state government wants to turn one of the roads which makes up the congested...