A couple of years ago, if you had asked Fred Castellucci (the Iberian Pig, Double Zero Napoletana and Sugo) what his biggest problem was, he’d have said finding reliable staff for his restaurants. Like many restaurateurs, Castellucci relied on Craigslist to fill his openings.
“It was a terrible process,” he says.
To solve that issue, Castellucci, Jared Malan, and TJ Muehleman started a website called We&Co. Formerly a mobile app focused on allowing restaurant patrons to thank wait staff when they exceeded expectations, We&Co is now centered around connecting restaurateurs with servers, bartenders, and chefs.
The site, which is free to join, uses profiles similar to those on LinkedIn. Service industry professionals can apply to posted jobs using their profile. We&Co then uses an algorithm that calculates qualifications for the job, proximity to the restaurant or bar, and customer satisfaction ratings. It ranks candidates and sends them to the restaurateur for consideration. It even takes the applicants’ Twitter followers and Facebook friends into account: Having more online friends usually indicates a more social person, which, Muehleman explains, makes a big difference for front of house and wait staff positions.
“You get hundreds of applications for one job—finding the needle in the haystack can be very challenging,” Castellucci says. “The ranking system really helps narrow it down.”
Restaurants pay $75 to $100 per month for the service. Last month, We&Co had more than 600 jobs posted, and according to Muehleman, hundreds of candidates have been placed through the system. We&Co now has more than 40,000 members in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Locally, participating restaurants include West Egg Cafe, Bhojanic, the Optimist, King Duke, No. 246, and New York Prime.
“Our focus is placing line level staff and really working with chefs to understand what they need most,” Muehleman says. “Atlanta’s such a fantastic restaurant town, and the community has been really good to us. Our customers give us great feedback, which helps us make We&Co even better.”