Pizza chain seeks to add employees

The restaurant industry was among the hardest hit during the pandemic, but one segment of that industry—the pizza business—has largely proven to be an exception. A recent New York Times article states, “In a year when restaurants across the country have struggled to stay afloat, with many unable to cover rent payments and pay employees because of government-mandated shutdowns, those that dished up pizza have generally fared better.” The article quotes a statistic from Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm, reporting that sales of pizza grew as much as 4 percent last year.

Among the pizza restaurants experiencing a banner year despite the pandemic is Mellow Mushroom, a chain that got its start in Atlanta. It is doing so well that it is promoting a campaign to bring new employees aboard by declaring May its National Month of Hiring. Founded in 1974, Mellow Mushroom now has 180 restaurants in 21 states, including five in DeKalb County. In an announcement of the hiring push, the pizza restaurant states that it “is looking for the many and the mellow to join one of its local Mellow Mushroom restaurants,” adding that it “will hold hiring events throughout the month of May and plans to bring on 2,000 new employees at all levels.”

Anne Mejia, Mellow Mushroom vice president, brand development, said even though inside dining is not yet at 100 percent of capacity at most stores, Mellow Mushroom is having a growth year. Working with companies that specialize in home food delivery, the restaurant is proving a popular choice for families eating at home more.

According to Statista, a company that provides market and consumer data nationally, there are more than 78,000 pizza restaurants in the United States. Despite the abundance of competition, Mellow Mushroom stands out for several reasons, including its corporate culture, according to Mejia.

At a time when many restaurants are struggling, Mellow Mushroom is looking to hire additional staff.

“The word mellow is in our name and we work to create a fun, relaxed environment not only for our customers, but also for our employees. Our unique vibe contributes to a positive work environment. We provide a work atmosphere in which employees are respected, and individuality is celebrated,” Mejia said.

“People just enjoy working here and that leads to a great experience for customers, too,” she continued. Mejia cited a recent employee survey in which Mellow Mushroom team members say good tips, flexible work schedules and Mellow Mushroom’s unique vibe and culture—with such touches as eclectic branded t-shirts as uniforms—contribute to a positive work experience. Mellow Mushroom also asserts that it offers competitive pay. “On top of that it lets you embrace who you are and praises your individuality,” she added.

Now a franchised operation, Mellow Mushroom retains the creative spirit that was pervasive in America at the time the restaurant chain was founded, Mejia said. “Each store is different. The décor reflects the neighborhood the store is in and the personalities of the owners.

“The food is where we get dead serious,” Mejia continued. “We start with fresh stone-baked crust made using Georgia spring water—it’s unique and flavorful. From there we use high quality fresh ingredients to create a classic southern pizza. From the beginning we set out to elevate the pizza dining experience.”

Like other restaurants around the world, Mellow Mushroom faced new challenges with the onset of the pandemic.

“Fortunately, we already were ramping up the online side of our business and revamping our packaging for a better takeout experience, so we were a bit ahead of the game when the pandemic struck. Mellow restaurants are serving more guests every day for in-house dining and demand for off premise sales remains strong,” Mejia said. “We are in a position to hire more Mellow team members and feel fortunate to support the local economies where we operate.”

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