The offbeat pizza chain wants to stand out from the pack and grow from within.

Hiring in the restaurant industry has only become more convoluted in recent years. According to a new Popmenu report, from a survey of 374 owners or operators, 51 percent of restaurants do not have the staff to handle on-premises dining this summer. 

Restaurants have had to get creative with the way they approach recruiting.

For Mellow Mushroom, the eclectic pizza brand turned to TikTok and Instagram videos.  

Anne Mejia, VP of brand development, says when looking around the industry for recruiting tactics, the chain noticed a lot of the same tactics. “How can we reach a wider audience and how can we make ourselves stand out a little bit more, because we feel we’re a unique brand,” she says.

The brand was working with Drew Talbert, who makes sketch comedy videos on TikTok and Instagram and has restaurant experience, for about a year.

“So we approached him and said, ‘hey, we know your audience likes entertainment, but we want to see if you’d be game for creating something that helps us with a business purpose besides just brand awareness,’” Mejia says.

The video that went live last week featured a sketch inside a Mellow Mushroom. A manager gets promoted to the chain’s operations coach position and then tells his team he is leaving. The viewer sees the reactions of the employees, all played by Talbert in costume, annoyed that their favorite manager is exiting. The tone quickly shifts when the manager explains it means a job opening for one of them.

“Mellow Mushroom gets it. They understand that reaching potential employees means using fun, engaging videos that resonate with their audiences,” Talbert said in a statement. 

Talbert captioned his video with information about Mellow Mushroom’s new job opportunity—the “operations coach” positions mentioned before.

Mejia says Mellow Mushroom’s focus on in-store execution is what prompted it to “laser focus” on investing in hiring more people at this position. 

The brand wants them to come from within, too.

“I think anybody in the restaurant industry probably may feel the same way, but we really like someone who knows the Mellow operation and understands how Mellow operates and is just familiar with us; it’s going to be just a great resource,” she says. 

These new hires, who have previous experience with Mellow Mushroom, will be able to better understand operations from the outset, Mejia says. 

“Franchisees want somebody who understands their operations,” she says. “Somebody that has Mellow experience that has a track record with highly performing restaurant operations within the mellow system comes with a lot that they can offer to a franchisee and in today’s environment.”

Mellow Mushroom added hiring from within will speed up the process, reduce onboarding and training time, and lower the total cost of finding candidates.

“We’ve learned the best talent for the operations coach positions comes from our existing family of franchise and company locations,” COO Mike Foster added. “By recruiting from within, we expect to attract candidates who already know and love our Mellow culture and want to advance their careers in the industry.”

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Feature, Labor & Employees, NextGen Casual, Mellow Mushroom