Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro in the Rivermarket has been a shining example of community involvement for a long time, especially as it relates to the surrounding homeless community. They frequently partner with groups such as homeless outreach program The Van, and they practice a level of compassion for less fortunate individuals than almost any business around.
Their newest job training program takes everything they do to another level, and is a program that owner Darla Huie hopes other restaurants will implement.
Under the new program Dizzy’s is looking to hire people who are currently temporarily unemployed or homeless living in a shelter for 6-12 hours a week. As a part of that the individuals progress through a series of skill building positions to help them build a resume that will allow them to find stable employment. Along the way, Dizzy’s staff works with them to build money management skills to help them keep the money that they do make, and get a out of a system that continues to hold them back.
“We all win with this. For the people who come in to work they get some money in their pocket, and they build skills to make them more hireable in the future,” Huie says. “For us we not only get the chance to impact the community around us, but we also have the potential to uncover some quality staff members to join our team on a permanent basis.”
The program takes people through basic front of house and back of house positions that even translate well to other industries beyond food.
Dizzy’s has worked with two people already through the program. One of the individuals was a good worker, but not well suited for restaurant industry according to Huie. “She didn’t fit the pace of our restaurant, but now she has a resume, a reference, and some skills to go out and find a place where she would fit best,” Huie elaborates.
The other trainee was an instant hit who matched the restaurant well. That person is moving on to other training positions to build more skills and add extra revenue opportunities. Huie says it is her hope that if people work out well then Dizzy’s could move them into more permanent roles within the restaurant if available, or help them find placement in the local industry.
“We are extremely lucky to have low turnover, so we do not always have openings,” Huie continues. “When we do I really hope to use some of the people who have worked out really well here to fill those spots. We also hope to help build the talent pool for the overall restaurant industry and help those we can’t place find a position somewhere else.”
Huie says that even though the program is in the infancy, she hopes to provide a structure and program that other restuarants can follow. She sees the program as something that helps the overall industry, as well as the community, all for very little cost and effort to the restaurants who involved.
“It only cost $60-120 a week to run the program, and by doing it we are giving someone the confidence and the experience to make a difference in their life,” Huie explains. “We have done the legal homework on the program, we are setting up a structured training program, and I am happy to work with any other business owner to implement the same thing. I really hope other restaurant owners consider something like this. It has the potential to dramatically impact the community and the overall industry.”
Hopefully efforts from Dizzy’s and others in the community can become the norm. It only makes Little Rock stronger and a better place to live.