With stores opening within the month in Park Ridge and Northfield, Mariano's needs workers and applicants turned up in droves recently to meet with recruiters for the upscale grocery chain.
An estimated 200 job-seekers talked to nine store representatives in Skokie for positions ranging from stocker to cashier, line cooks to specialty deli and bakery and management for the Park Ridge location at 1900 S. Cumberland Ave. which opens Feb. 18 and in Northfield at 1822 Willow Road, which opens Feb. 25.
The Milwaukee-based company, owned by Roundy's Supermarkets, Inc., acquired 11 Dominick's stores at a cost of $36 million. Mariano's will grow its current 13 Chicago-area locations to 29, with 10 new city stores and 19 in the suburbs.
"We're looking for anyone interested in working for Mariano's who has a good attitude and experience in fast food, restaurants, hospitality or grocery," said Jess Terry, Roundy's group vice president and chief human resources officer, who said he needs 275 employees for each store. He declined to share salary ranges. "For us, it's all about the customer service and we're humbled by our success. Our team, people in stores, is what differentiates us. Our people are friendly and outgoing so we become a destination instead of a chore."
First-timers to seasoned veterans made for a constant flow into the job fair. Applicants waited in a separate room instead of in line to speak to a recruiter. Many were asked back for second interviews and encouraged to apply online at http://www.marianos.com
Calvin Nakprad, 22, an Oakton Community College student and Skokie resident, has a strong restaurant background after growing up in the business at his mother's Thai Pavilion restaurant that used to be in Skokie but is now located in DeKalb. He said he wanted a store management position while Maria Stathopoulos, 57, of Morton Grove, was looking for a customer service position.
"I shop there all the time and it's a great place," said Stathopoulos, who's been in retail management and customer service for decades but is looking for a second part-time job. "I told them the truth. I like their store."
Juanita Johnson, 46, of West Lawn in Chicago, will take whatever position she can at Mariano's. The former paraprofessional at Chicago Public Schools was laid off last May after nine years and her unemployment has run out. A single mom of five children, she's anxious to work.
"If I can go to Wisconsin to work daily, I would," she said. "I want to get back into the workforce before I go nuts. I like working with the public – I'm ambitious, a hard worker and a skillful worker."
Bill Swaggerty, 43, of Chicago, previously worked for Jewel food store and most recently lost his position as a waiter in Chicago. He was asked back for a meet and greet at the new Park Ridge store located near his parents' house.
"Mariano's is slowly but surely going higher and that's stability," Swaggerty said.
Terry said many of the applicants had experience in quick-serve, restaurants and hospitality.
"Today, I haven't seen any Dominick's workers come through," said Terry, who's hosting job fairs almost weekly. "But we have hired some Dominick's workers."