Restaurant staffing app GigPro had 1,500 applicants for 91 posted hospitality industry jobs on a recent Saturday in July. And according to co-founder Ben Ellsworth, who launched the online platform that connects F&B workers with restaurants looking for short-term help in fall 2020, there were an average of 12.2 applicants per posted job, or gig, in June. 

“In June is when we really started seeing it explode, especially in Charleston,” said Ellsworth, who added Nashville (where co-founder Sean Brock owns multiple restaurants), Charlotte and, most recently, Asheville to the app after first launching in Charleston. “[There’s] a lot more pros getting on the platform and a steady flow of businesses signing up. What we wanted to happen was to get an engaged labor pool, and they’re very engaged.”

Job applicants outnumber posted gigs on GigPro, especially on the weekend | Provided

South Carolina’s leisure and hospitality industry added 9,000 jobs from May 2021 to June 2021, the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce June jobs report showed. The sector has seen a 12.78% increase in its workforce since June 2020, according to the report. 

GigPro jobs have an average wage of $20.36 per hour, more than $4 higher than the national average hourly wage for non-supervisor roles in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to the U.S. Labor Department

GigPro recently added commercial and residential cleaning, event setup and housekeeping job posts to the app — housekeepers, dishwashers and line cooks are the most sought after industry professionals, Ellsworth said. And according to the former chef, folks “are getting hired permanently left and right” after working a gig on the app. 

“I think the reason for that is the app’s getting really competitive,” he said. 

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William Trippe, a 21-year-old student at Thomas College in Maine, recently landed a full-time line cook position at Dashi after starting out as a temporary employee hired through GigPro, he told the City Paper

“I just love how much freedom the app has given me,” Trippe said. GigPro introduced him to restaurant work, but he doesn’t know if he will pursue a career in the industry after graduation. 

“I’m still figuring that out because I’m going to college for computer science, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy coming home every summer and working in the restaurant business,” he said. 

Alexis Armand, a 10-year food and beverage industry veteran, was briefly lured away from restaurant work during the pandemic. 

“I lost my job, and I started working at Amazon and I loved it. It was just such a better quality of life, so I was not going to go back,” she said. “My best friend who lives in Charleston texted me and was like, ‘Hey there’s this app called GigPro, you should check it out.’” 

Armand traveled into town from Columbia to work a few jobs on GigPro, and weeks later, she packed her bags and moved to the Holy City. She picks up dishwashing, prep and line cook jobs weekly on GigPro, she said. 

“I like it because it gives you a lot of freedom, and you have the option to get paid the same day. I came up in the back of the house, and when you’re a cook, you don’t really have that luxury. I’ve been a sous chef — if you call out, it’s like the end of the world,” Armand said. “[Restaurants] are so desperate for good workers, and they’re paying adequate rates now.”