January 28, 2010 in Business

Pizzeria woos laid-off workers

Pizza Hut seeks to expand regionally
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Pizza Hut Inc. will hold a job fair for displaced Papa John’s employees next week, the company’s regional director of operations said Wednesday.

Steve Abigail said Pizza Hut could use as many as 50 associates, eight salaried managers and 12 restaurant managers to keep up with expansion at its 21 area stores, with a 22nd on the way.

“We would love to make this a win-win situation,” he said. “We have openings now, absolutely.”

The Papa John’s franchisee for Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and other Eastern Washington cities abruptly shut down after the close of business Monday. Dozens of employees lost their jobs.

A Papa John’s International Inc. spokesman said the company plans to reopen the store with a new operator.

Abigail, who has worked for Pizza Hut for 18 years, said he has seen competitors close and reopen within weeks, but sometimes not for months.

The idled, experienced Papa John’s employees can step right into another pizza business without missing a beat, Abigail said, unlike new workers who must be trained, and may not be a good fit.

“I want the best people to work for me,” he said.

Larry Kelley, one of those who lost their jobs with Papa John’s, said Abigail had already e-mailed him, and he had passed the word to other employees.

“It’s nice that they’re doing that,” he said, adding that he drove by a Pizza Hut Tuesday night.

“Their lobby was stacked up,” Kelley said.

The job fair will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Lion River Inn.

Abigail said others may attend, but those with the restaurant knowledge of the Papa John’s workers will be hired before those without experience.


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