What is the problem and why do we care?

The restaurant industry, perhaps more than any other industry in the nation, has suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Millions of households have suffered devastating consequences of family income. In fact, the National Restaurant Association estimates that about 40% of the restaurants are closed, and over 8 million restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of the pandemic - this represents a staggering two-thirds of the workforce in this industry.

But this massive problem not only impacts those working in the restaurant industry and their families. The scale of this problem has also significant consequences in our community and other economic spheres that are interconnected to this important industry.

However, while the problems that we are experiencing are unprecedented, also the solidarity and goodwill of everyone in our community have been unparalleled. It is being a tough ride but we, in The Great Rehiring Project, believe that this can be an opportunity to rebuild our economy stronger than ever.

What's the plan?

We decided to create The Great Rehiring Project, whose goal is to start rebuilding right now. It sounds bold, but we have a plan and we are already working on it.

Here are four ways we can help:

1- Talent Directory: We will be launching a public-facing website to help laid-off industry professionals find new jobs. Laid-off employees can opt-in to have profiles, resumes, and work samples accessible to potential employers. A similar idea has already been implemented by Airbnb with its laid-off employees ( https://www.airbnb.com/d/talent ).

2- Education, Training, and Connections: We will create a digital forum for restaurant industry professionals to be able to connect and share advice, trends, and experience your professional growth.

3- Cook for a Cause: Are you a cook or a chef? We will invite you to produce meals for in-kind donations sponsored by donors. This will create a source of income for the cooks and chefs. The founding team of The Great Rehiring Project has also created GoFenik.com, a platform that channels this type of donations. All the cooks and chefs will be given access to this platform.

Who we are?

Jose Blanchet is a Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. He was a Professor of Statistics and Operations Research at Columbia and at Harvard. He has written over 100 academic papers in top journals and conference proceedings and has received several awards, including a Presidential Award given by President Obama.

Jose Luis Roqueni owned a restaurant for ten years and has 20 years of experience as a technology entrepreneur. Founded companies in high tech, digital media, and marketing.