WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — U.S. military veterans working at Hooters restaurants in South Florida will receive a $100 bonus on Veterans Day.
It's all part of a hiring incentive program started earlier this year at Hooters locations throughout southwest and South Florida.
Any veteran who is hired by Hooters will receive a $500 hiring bonus – $250 upon hire and another $250 after 30 days of employment – and a $100 cash bonus on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
The program came about during a staffing shortage, South Florida Hooters marketing director Kristi Quarles told WPTV.
"I made a comment to a colleague that, 'Man, I wish we had more employees like Ortice (Robinson) and Joey (Truglio).' Those are general managers and managing partners [who] are veterans," Quarles said. "And they asked why. And I said, 'Veterans, they are so hard-working, they're so dedicated and if we could have a restaurant full of veterans, I mean, how much better off would we be?' And it got the light bulb shining there."
Quarles said Hooters has partnered with lots of veterans' groups through the years, so the program seemed like a natural extension and a win-win for the organization.
"We are a very patriotic group, specifically here in South Florida, and we want to make sure our veterans know that they're appreciated and, if they do work for us, they're going to be treated very, very well," she said.
Quarles said the program has been invaluable helping Hooters find not just new employees but also recognizing current employees who didn't wear their service on their sleeves, so to speak.
"They weren't making a big deal about it," she said. "They weren't wearing military hats in the kitchen."
Robinson has been the managing partner of the Hooters in Fort Lauderdale for six years. Truglio has served as managing partner of the Hooters in Pembroke Pines for 22 years.
"It is open to all positions," Quarles said. "We do have quite a few managers, so we have managing partners, general managers and assistant managers."
The next biggest group, she said, is the "heart of the house" – kitchen, prep and line cooks, including Robert Schlaff, who is currently working at the Boca Raton location.
There is also an Army reservist and an Army veteran working as Hooters waitresses in Fort Lauderdale and Bradenton, respectively.
"I don't see it going anywhere," Quarles said of the program. "It's something we hope to expand upon."