The pandemic shuttered restaurants nationwide, with employees laid off in droves. Now that Americans are eager to dine out again, many of those same restaurants are scrambling to rehire in an exceedingly tight job market. A growing number of them, including Leunig’s Bistro & Café and Sherpa Kitchen in Burlington, are seeking help from Fliptable, a new restaurant-staffing app created by Kassie Pike, 31, of Middletown Springs.
Fliptable works like a dating app to match prospective employees with restaurant jobs. It’s free for job seekers, with a monthly fee for restaurants after a free 30-day trial. Restaurants post a QR code that job seekers can scan with a smartphone to see available positions and whether they’re a match.
Pike’s experiences planted the seeds of her entrepreneurial venture. At 22, the Fairlee native landed a job in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. She worked with a volunteer team to respond to letters to president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
While many of the letters were innocuous, Pike’s assignment was more fraught. “I specifically handled what are called ‘red dot letters’ — threats to the first lady and the president,” she said. “I worked with a security team.”
Despite her weighty task, the job paid only a stipend. To cover school loans and living expenses, Pike sought a restaurant job.
“I had no idea how to apply,” she recalled. She targeted the closest restaurant from which she could walk home safely at night and stopped by three times until the manager was free to interview her.
“I knew there was a way I could make [the process] better,” she said.
Pike started developing Fliptable six months before the pandemic. Her Vermont- and New Hampshire-based team now numbers six, including her twin sister.
“We thought, How do we make [the hiring process] fun, familiar and intuitive and give immediate feedback?” Pike said.
Since the app launched in mid-June, more than 160 restaurants have signed up, though only 100 job seekers have used the service.
“Restaurants are busier than ever and struggling to find staff,” Pike said. The time is ripe, she believes, for Fliptable.