Dealing with staffing shortage: Magpies Bakery and Yassin’s Falafel House looking to hire


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The labor shortage continues in East Tennessee, and businesses are finding different ways to deal, whether that means making current over-worked staff happy or offering hiring incentives, or both.

Yassin’s Falafel House is looking for several new employees to join the team, and the owner, Yassin Terou, is offering a $1k sing-on bonus–after three months of work.

“Now we’re giving it out more to invite more people to come back to work, to come work for us. We’re looking for talented people and the people that want to dream for the future,” Terou said.

Terou said it hasn’t been hard to staff his business until recently. After reopening last year, he was able to keep up with food orders with the amount of staff he had. That changed recently.

“Everybody wants for, saying we have a shortage of labor because of the unemployment. The unemployment in Tennessee expired this month, last month, and we still have a shortage of labor. So it’s like, our job to make their dream, not to fight the people in need,” Terou said.

On top of offering a sign-on bonus, Terou is making sure his current employees are being taken care of. He decided to raise the minimum wage at his business from $11 an hour to $12.

Terou said he also gives his current employees free food and bonuses, plus the $12 an hour is only the starting wage. He said he would eventually like to raise the minimum wage even higher, when fiscally possible.

“So I cannot go up just abruptly and bump my sandwich up from $8 to $16. That’s not going to keep my business in business,” Terou said.

“We did eleven dollars, even before all this shortage happened because we did believe it’s not enough. Even when we were providing eleven dollars, we strongly believe it’s not enough, so we bumped it up to 12,” Terou said.

Terou said it is partly on the employers to make people want to come back to work, and that also includes giving them an environment to flourish and enjoy working in.

“We want to change that psychology of the people and make them come back to work and live their dream again. We are in America, the land of the American dream,” Terou said.

Terou said he is nervous about the increase of COVID-19 cases, but more so because of the masks. He said masks are difficult for his employees because they have to stand by a hot grill for hours. He said if a mask mandate came down though, he would gladly comply.

Magpies Bakery Hiring

Katie Hopper, manager at Magpies Bakery, said she is nervous about the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases and how it will impact the current staffing shortage.

“Continue/get worse. Yes definitely. We are always on a roller coaster of staffing and particularly customer service,” said Hopper. “I think it does have a lot to do with like dealing with people in and out of the neighborhood and masked, unmasked.”

Hopper said Magpies had been busy non-stop since reopening last year. She started just before the store’s two-week closure. “We are slammed. Yes. All the time, it never stops.”

Magpies is also hiring for several positions, most of them dealing with customer service. They’re also looking for a cake decorator for the morning shift. Hopper said Magpies is truly a great place to work, and she hopes that’s what will attract new employees.

“I love it. I can’t talk enough about how awesome Magpies is. This is my favorite place that I ever worked in my whole life,” Hopper said.

Because the bakery has been so busy, the owner makes sure her employees are taken care of.

“We were actually closed last week just to give everybody a break because we have been working our booties off. We had like one of our biggest holidays, was just this past you know, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which was really awesome. But, it kind of just feels like we’ve been going, going, going,” Hopper said.

Hopper said the owner also treats the staff to breakfast on Fridays, and coffee every once in a while to give them a little boost. She said Magpies Bakery is always looking for up-beat workers year-round, but they need some right now.

If you would like to apply to Magpies Bakery, click this link.

Both Terou and Hopper said to work at their store, no experience is necessary. Terou said his restaurant’s motto is everyone and anyone is welcome, and that includes employees. To apply to work at Yassin’s Falafel House, call one of his locations at (865) 247-7567 or (865) 219-1462.

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