After several years of coronavirus turmoil, a popular Inuvik restaurant is going on a hiring spree.
“We’re currently working on a large recruitment drive for the summer so we can open back up all of our services and get back into the market,” said Marcus Clarke, director of digital customer experience for the Highway Restaurant.
The restaurant is looking to fill eight positions, including servers, cashiers, bartenders and dishwashers, as it prepares to resume indoor dining thanks to the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, he said.
Students looking to earn extra income for their next semester are encouraged to apply, he said, in addition to anyone with a “passion” for the food and beverage industry.
“Our ideal candidate is anyone who’s energetic, excited and has a passion for customer service because that’s a big part of what we do,” said Clarke. “We’re looking for folks who really want be part of the Highway Restaurant team.”
Located in the Mackenzie Hotel, the Highway Restaurant opened in 2019, “so this is our first real summer without Covid,” he said.
After about two years of pandemic restrictions, Clarke said the business is looking to rebound.
“For us, it hopefully means a full hotel, which means a really busy day, every day,” he said.
Once a bustling spot where locals and tourists alike could socialize while enjoying a selection of tasty foods, the restaurant had to pivot its business model to cope with the pandemic.
In addition to offering takeout, it provided catering services for isolation centres during the early days of the crisis, which “allowed us to keep a lot of staff, during an unprecedented situation,” said Clarke.
“We’ve been making do for two years now,” he continued. “We feel that it’s time to get back into action.”
Once the restaurant finds enough workers, there are plans to reopen its dining room, bar and lunch service, he said.
“We’re hoping to integrate ourselves back into everyone’s day,” said Clarke. “We’re looking to learn a lot and grow a lot during the summer and really see what the tourism market has to offer for us and what we can do for the community.”
The Highway Restaurant’s menu – which is only available via takeout until the staffing shortage is addressed – offers “a little bit of everything,” he said.
“We do recipes with bannock. We’ve got a bison burger on the menu full-time. We’ve got Arctic char and the cooks are really inspired by northern foods and northern cuisine,” he said. “We try and use the freshest ingredients, and splurge on Atlantic Canadian lobster tails during the season for some signature dishes.”
Though the restaurant is “100 percent family friendly” and does not serve alcohol, Shivers Lounge, which is also based in the Mackenzie Hotel, serves a similar menu in addition to a selection of alcoholic beverages, he said.
“We’ve got some extra pub classics over there,” said Clarke. “And of course, it is a full bar. It’s a different atmosphere in Shivers. We try to go for a little bit of a cross between a casual lounge and a sports bar.”
Both Shivers Lounge and the Highway Restaurant are owned by Paul Clarke, a longtime northerner, caterer and Red Seal chef, who decided to open his own eatery— “and that’s how the Highway Restaurant was born,” he said.
Just exaggerating a bit nnsl ” After several years of coronavirus turmoil ”