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LA Program Pairs Understaffed Restaurants With Job Placement Non-Profit to Feed the Needy

A new grant setup partners workers from LA non-profit Chrysalis with restaurants in need of staff, and all for a good cause

A pair of hands work an uncooked pizza on a large marble slab inside of a restaurant.
Making a pizza at Ronan on Melrose
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

A new restaurant grant program in greater Los Angeles is aimed at helping to solve several different problems at once. The new initiative, engineered by Kitchen Culture Recruiting, will pay restaurants to provide meals to a particular group of in-need locals — anyone from first responders to the elderly to out of work hospitality employees — and give them the staff to do so, as part of a partnership with non-profit job placement and retention program Chrysalis.

Kristel Arabian, founder of Kitchen Culture Recruiting, tells Eater that the new grant program is funded entirely by an unnamed private donor who also does work in the fair chance hiring space, particularly where it overlaps with the restaurant industry (think hiring former unhoused people, veterans, the formerly incarcerated, etc.). The raised funds for this current program allow for two area restaurants to temporarily employ a pair of entry-level candidates from the Chrysalis system to work several eight-hour shifts helping to prepare food for whichever in-need local group the restaurant chooses.

The workers give restaurants an extra set of hands to prep and pack those meals, with the opportunity to bring workers in more permanently for an expanded role after the initial period has ended. Restaurants across the country are currently struggling with staffing issues, wading through no-show interviews, ongoing unemployment benefits for the hospitality space, and a reluctance by many to return to lower-paid restaurant positions during an ongoing public health crisis. For the Chrysalis-appointed workers, the limited employment opportunity could lead to an offer for a full job inside one of the restaurants, and at the least grows their skill base for job placement somewhere else.

The first two restaurants to undertake the program are Ronan, the Italian restaurant on Melrose, and Little Coyote, Long Beach’s favorite new pizzeria. The grant provides the funds for the meals themselves as well as the workers, while also covering their insurance during the three-day employment cycle. Arabian tells Eater that the plan is to grow the program more broadly (and even nationally), bringing on a greater number of restaurants to match with Chrysalis job candidates in the coming months. For now, the first round begins locally.