Hosts, servers, bus staff, bartenders, oyster shuckers, line cooks, prep cooks, dish washers, stewards. Asheville restaurateur Michel Baudouin is hiring in full force this week for three of his restaurants — including the recently announced Lafayette Cajun Creole Cuisine, which opens Friday, May 1 in the Asheville French Quarter district on Lexington Avenue.
“We are in the service industry, so we are not looking at hiring just bodies,” Baudouin says. “We are looking for career-oriented people who, like my current team, understand that you only get the respect you are willing to deliver yourself.”
“Hard working team players who enjoy walking into the Asheville French Quarter everyday are the candidates we are looking for,” adds chef Tres Hundertmark, who recently returned to Asheville from New Orleans to be executive chef of the French Quarter (Baudouin’s nickname for his four adjacent businesses, Bouchon, Creperie Bouchon, Lafayette and RendezVouz).
The chefs aim to hire 16 kitchen staff, four oyster bar staff and 25-30 front of house staff. Although most positions are for Lafayette, Baudouin also needs extra team members at Bouchon and Creperie Bouchon.
All of the openings meet Living Wage standards, meaning the hourly pay rate is at least $12.50 per hour without employer provided health insurance or $11 per hour with insurance.
“We do not like turnover as it creates inconsistency and expenses,” says Baudouin. “In an industry known for an average turnover of 65 percent or more, I am proud to say that during the first 90-day trial period, we are in the mid-30 [percent range] and after trial, we are in the mid-20 [range].”
Several of the eateries’ current employees, along with Hundertmark and Baudouin (as he is available) will be present during the job fair to accept applications and screen potential hires with a series of questions that are specific to each role. Promising candidates will be asked to return for a full interview with Baudouin making the final hiring decisions. This collaborative process, he says, will help build a strong team for each establishment.
“It is important for all managers to have first impression of who they will be working with closely,” Baudouin reasons. “I am not a micromanager, and I empower my team to do the best job they can.”
The French Quarter’s job fair takes place at 68 Lexington Avenue (formerly the Local Taco), on Monday April 13, from 10 a.m. To 2 p.m., and Tuesday, April 14, from 2-6 p.m. Applicants should bring resumes and references and be prepared to answer several screening questions about their desired position.