The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 1:00 am

Proximo, BakerStreet going to 5 days


The operators of Proximo and BakerStreet Steakhouse announced over the weekend that they will change their hours.

Faced with a staffing shortage, the restaurants will close a couple days a week. BakerStreet, 4820 N. Clinton St., will be closed on Sundays and Mondays. Proximo, 898 S. Harrison St., will be closed on Mondays and Tuesday.

The new five-day operating week will give employees an opportunity to rest.

The team is not looking at the change as a loss “but rather an opportunity to allow for quality family time, rest – both mentally and physically – and rejuvenation after what has been a really, really long last 17 months or so,” says Peter Shuey, director of operations for Obicai Restaurant Group, which also operates The Hoppy Gnome and Gnometown Brewing Co.

“It will also allow our teams a chance to tackle some different projects that we otherwise wouldn't be able to being open seven days a week.”

The decision to close BakerStreet and Proximo two days a week was not an easy one. While business has been strong, exceeding pre-COVID numbers, the restaurants were operating at about 70% in terms of staffing.

The team was hopeful that the job market would take a turn for the better, but it never happened.

“It was extremely difficult given our 'yes is the answer, what's the question' philosophy, but the decision became easier and made more sense as the weeks went by,” Shuey says.

In an effort to build a full staff, the restaurants are doing “the most obvious thing” – increasing pay rates, with an opportunity to earn more depending on availability and willingness to be cross-trained.

“We've hired a local videography company to put together recruiting videos that will allow you to see what kind of company you'll be working for and what great people we have on all levels,” Shuey says.

In addition, there are two human resources interns whose sole purpose is to sift through applications daily in order to make contact with applicants and set up an interview the same day they apply, so as not to miss anyone.

The restaurants are also looking at rolling out a sign-on and retention bonus program in the next month.

“We're going to continue to focus our efforts on recruiting, interviewing and training,” Shuey says. “Once we feel our staffing levels are at a good place and we have a full team again is when we'll talk about a date to return to normal hours.”

New chicken spot

A new dining spot opened in the '07.

Zeb's Chicken Shack, 3412 Fairfield Ave., is a family-run business that offers Southern comfort fare such as fried chicken, wings and fish. Other menu items include liver, gizzards and giblets. Side dishes include hush puppies, fries, okra and slaw.

Hours for the new restaurant are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

H2O for Heroes

Firehouse Subs is organizing its ninth annual H2O For Heroes bottled water collection drive.

On Aug. 7, Firehouse Subs restaurants will offer one medium sub to each guest who brings in at least one unopened, 24-pack of any brand of bottled water. The water benefits local fire and police departments, emergency victims, senior and community centers.

The program was started in 2012 by two Phoenix-area franchisees. Firehouse Subs expanded the program nationwide in 2016. Since then, more than 4 million bottles of water have been donated to public safety departments, emergency victims and senior and community centers.

A partner of Firehouse Subs, Coca-Cola will be donating 5,000 cases of Dasani water to first responders and community organizations in support of this year's H2O For Heroes.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email or call 461-8304 at least two weeks before event or desired publication.

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