PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Small businesses in Florida are still feeling the impact of COVID-19. A survey by the Florida Chamber reports that about 45% of small businesses worry about operating in the future.
But many businesses are adapting. One family business in Tradition said uniqueness and quality is the formula for survival. Now they're offering paid apprenticeships to those interested in the restaurant industry.
Pasquale Lamarra is a New Jersey transplant who grew up in kitchens. He's managed or owned two dozen, to date.
"People eat with their eyes," said Lamarra. "And I know a kitchen. In fact, I know 25 kitchens. And I'm all about the small business and the possibilities bringing what isn't already being done."
His family owns Pastaio in Tradition, as well as Meating Street a steakhouse, seafood market and butcher shop that opened just a few weeks ago. It fills a void in St. Lucie County.
"We're bringing butchering back to life, and we've got to get butchering back to popularity," he said.
The demand exists. Meating Street now needs five new hires to meet a growing customer base. Lamarra is also looking for 10 apprentices.
"I want to see people grow," said Lamarra. "Money can't buy this kind of experience. I want to mentor young workers and teach them some skills and techniques that can take them to the next level."
Apprentices will learn the art of meat cutting, fish cutting and sourcing products from Frank Barba, Meating Street's master butcher who has 44 years of experience.
"You need to know what to cut, how much of it to cut, when to cut," said Barba. "There's not many of these places around anymore."
"They'll have our skills," added Lamarra. "We'll put them all out. We're an open book."
Meating Street's wine director, Vincent Sacco, calls the new apprenticeship program a win-win for both aspiring restauranteurs and customers. But he said applicants should expect to be challenged.
"This is an outstanding concept. A new endeavor, but it takes a lot," said Sacco. "The restaurant business is not for the weak. I can tell you that. You've got to be strong. You've got to be passionate. What Pasquale is doing here is amazing and Traditional needed this. We're here to elevate that experience."
To learn more about paid apprenticeships and open positions within Meating Street, click here.