$300 bonus for restaurant workers? It’s happening

Better pay and perks are trending as food service tries to woo workers

Apr 28, 2021 | Current events | Jobs
Article headline image

Would you like a raise with that?

As the economy reopens and Americans flock back to restaurants, businesses that struggled to stay afloat last year are facing a new challenge: hiring enough workers to serve the hungry public. Last month, bar and restaurant sales rose 13.4% month-over-month. And by mid-April, there were more food service jobs on Indeed.com than before the pandemic began. The rising demand and dwindling workforce has forced some restaurants to scale back operations and forfeit profits. Select McDonald’s and Pizza Huts are operating with reduced hours. Subway franchise owners are picking up the slack by slinging sandwiches behind the counter. And short-staffed IHOPs aren’t bringing back late-night dining just yet. Meanwhile, restaurants are offering signing bonuses, immediate pay, and previously unheard-of perks to bring workers back, with little success.

  • One McDonald’s manager offered candidates $50 just to interview.
  • Celebrity restaurateur Stephen Starr tempted applicants with $300 signing bonuses.
  • Portillo’s Hot Dogs is offering $250 hiring bonuses and upped wages in some states.
  • One TGI Fridays operator bumped hourly wages and rolled out immediate pay.
  • Chipotle will pay college tuition for part-time employees after four months.
  • Taco Bell has started offering paid family leave to managers.

Why has hiring become so hard? Frustrated managers have a hunch. Expanded unemployment benefits pay more than low-wage jobs. And three stimulus checks have padded some Americans’ bank accounts. But not every company is struggling. Costco, which raised its minimum wage to $16 an hour last month, is “inundated with applications,” suggesting restaurants’ one-time bonuses simply aren’t cutting it. Once strapped for cash, food service workers may be taking a break to assess their options and transition to jobs that pay more.


  • Don't try this at home: An Italian hospital employee who skipped work for 15 years but collected €538,000 worth of pay is now facing criminal charges.
  • Bridge the divide: The GOP countered Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs plan with their own $568 billion infrastructure plan.
  • Nest egg #goals: Fresh data spotlights the states where Americans have saved the most for retirement.
  • Shots shots shots: From donuts to hot dogs, these are just a few of the freebies you can get for getting vaxxed.