Staffing shortages have plagued restaurants in the wake of the pandemic, causing many to close or drastically reduce hours and the number of tables available on any given day. But as the restaurant veterans behind Birmingham startup Croux know, the issue didn’t start with COVID.
“Turnover has always been high,” Lindsey Noto told Hypepotamus. “It’s very easy to pop into a restaurant and start making money…but it is always easy to jump ship and work somewhere else. That’s just the nature of the industry.”
For restaurant owners, technology and innovation haven’t always been the focus when it comes to the operational side of the business. But the Croux team is rethinking the very nature of how restaurants find talent and hire new workers on a day-to-day basis. They’ve created an easy-to-navigate staffing platform designed to help alleviate scheduling woes.
Traditionally, those looking for someone to cover a shift would send a text or post on Facebook in hopes of finding a person in their network available to work. Croux has digitized and streamlined that process. Vetted users build a profile and are matched with restaurant shift opportunities near them.
The platform is also designed to open up more opportunities to people from all walks of life.
Flexibility and accessibility are central to the tech the team is building, and Croux looks to attract people both inside and outside of the restaurant industry. Users range from current and former restaurant workers to college students, retirees, veterans, young professionals, and single moms looking for more flexible shift options.
The on-demand shift work model has become more popular post-pandemic, as people reevaluate work-life balance and look for more flexible work options.
The team is made up almost entirely of restaurant veterans. Brett Ables comes from the restaurant and catering space, Jennifer Ryan is a restaurant owner, Stewart Price is a restaurant owner/operator, and Noto brings her experience as a culinary specialist at food and beverage giant Sysco.
Rounding out the current team is CTO Kenny Kung, who has been building tech in the Birmingham area for many years.
The idea earned early traction after winning a Techstars event in Alabama and more recently taking home first place at Alabama Launchpad, a startup competition for early-stage startups across the state.
Croux is currently focused on the fast-casual restaurant ecosystem in Birmingham with plans to move into other towns across the Southeast over the coming years.
Croux is one of a growing number of “recruiting tech” startups that have popped up over the last few years, highlighting the intense need businesses have right now in connecting with the right talent. Alabama, in particular, has been the launching point for several regional staffing-focused ventures, including Boulo (focused on women re-entering the workforce) and Joonko (focused on building a diverse talent pipeline).