Lake Travis-Westlake businesses still looking for staff despite coronavirus concerns

H-E-B is among a list of companies in the Greater Austin area continuing to hire new employees. (Courtesy H-E-B)
H-E-B is among a list of companies in the Greater Austin area continuing to hire new employees. (Courtesy H-E-B)

H-E-B is among a list of companies in the Greater Austin area continuing to hire new employees. (Courtesy H-E-B)

Citywide efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus by implementing social distancing have had a significant impact on local businesses in the Greater Austin area and beyond.

Following an order prohibiting dine-in service issued by Gov. Greg Abbott on March 19, Lake Travis-Westlake restaurants, including Westlake’s Sway and Lakeway’s Sundancer Grill, have temporarily closed out of an abundance of caution.

The necessary measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus have left many in the service industry without work, according to Texas Workforce Commission. Between March 1-18 the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Area witnessed a 460% increase in unemployment claims when compared to the same time period in 2019, as previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper.

Despite the increase in unemployment, entities throughout the Greater Lake Travis-Westlake area continue to search for additional staff members, set to begin immediately.

Chris Pallagi, owner of three Domino’s Pizza locations in Austin, said he is looking to hire at least 15 employees, from managerial positions to delivery drivers.



“The positive thing is we are getting applications from say, Uber, Lyft drivers and service industry team members that were laid off or furloughed,” Pallagi said. “But we’re also losing our existing team members.”

Pallagi owns franchise locations in Westlake, Lakeway and Bee Cave, with a fourth store on the horizon. In effort to protect his staff, he has halted carryout orders and reduced operating hours at each location. Despite this action, some employees have decided to leave their positions to self-quarantine.

“Absolutely we’re looking for people ... so much that we might have to temporarily close the Westlake store,” Pallagi said, adding that while staffing was a challenge prior to the virus, the situation only furthered the issue.

Domino’s throughout the Greater Austin area are looking to bring in approximately 350 new employees to ensure that service remains strong, according to a press release from the company.

Pallagi said he is hoping to hire 15 new employees across his three locations, along with an additional 15 following the opening of his fourth location in Bee Cave, which was delayed due to the coronavirus.

Pallagi explained that he is hoping to attract those service industry professionals who may have been left without work.

“There's a lot of opportunities for potential business owners to be in the position that I'm in.” Pallagi said. “I'm young, and I've already been an owner now for four years.”

According to the shelter-in-place issued by Travis County on March 24, grocery stores, pharmacies and other companies are deemed essential businesses and permitted to remain open.

H-E-B and Randalls are among the stores in the Lake Travis area currently hiring, according to Laura Mitchell, Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce president.

H-E-B’s career section of its website currently lists a number of open positions, including a night shift stocker and in-store shopper at its Bee Cave location.

"To support our customers and those Texans displaced from work due to the coronavirus, we’re currently hiring short-term support for our stores," Mojica Johnny, an H-E-B representative, said in an email, adding that within the last few weeks the company has received 60,000 applications for both short-term and long-term positions.



Wage increases

While a number of companies continue to search for new employees, others have implemented temporary wage increases for their existing staff members.

Randalls, owned by Alebertsons Companies, announced it will provide a temporary $2 increase per hour for all nonunion and union frontline associates, in recognition of their team members, according to a March 20 press release.

“In ways that we could not even imagine, overnight, our country changed and as a result it changed the way our teams conduct business,” President and CEO Vivek Sankaran said. “They work every day to keep our communities fed, their pantries and medicine cabinets stocked, and to ensure one less worry on our customers’ minds as we all face this unprecedented pandemic.”

The increase, which will impact about 230,000 staff members, became effective March 15 and will last until the end of the company’s pay period March 28.

Target has also implemented a $2 per hour increase until May 2 in light of the significant contributions made by staff during this time of need, according to a March 20 press release.

The company is also offering the option for vulnerable employees to receive paid leave. Staff members who are 65 and older or those with underlying medicinal conditions are among those eligible for a 30-day maximum paid leave.



By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

Lakeway resident Pat Vanderford speaks during the public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget at Lakeway City Council's Sept. 21 meeting—its first in-person meeting since March. From left: Council Members Sajeev Kumar and Louis Mastrangelo, Mayor Sandy Cox and Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Higginbotham were present at the meeting. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
In first in-person meeting since March, Lakeway schedules budget, tax rate votes for Sept. 28

Lakeway City Council voted Sept. 21 to delay voting on the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget and the proposed tax rate until Sept. 28.

August homes sales increased in the Lake Travis-Westlake region. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lake Travis-Westlake region sees double-digit growth in home sales

Lake Travis-Westlake residential home sales increased by 42% in August and dollar volume by more than 84%. Median prices are also up by 15% when compared to August 2019.

Vista Brewing will host a pop-up beer garden at the Hill Country Galleria starting Sept. 24. (Courtesy Giant Noise Public Relations)
Driftwood's Vista Brewing to open pop-up beer garden in Bee Cave

Vista Brewing will offer a selection of its signature draft beers, local wines, ciders and picnic-style snacks, appetizers and merchandise.

City Post is located at 113 E. Eighth St., Georgetown. (Courtesy City Post)
Georgetown to get steakhouse, speakeasy plus more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

Eanes ISD officials will meet Sept. 22 for an in-person board meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Eanes ISD to hold first in-person board meeting since March

The meeting location has been temporarily moved from the S. Don Rogers Administration Building at 601 Camp Craft Road to Westlake High School’s Chap Court at 4100 Westbank Drive, Austin.

Biderman's Deli closed its Westlake location. (Courtesy Biderman's Deli)
Biderman's Deli closes its Westlake location

The New York-style, Jewish-inspired deli opened last Novemember within the Village at Westlake to serve bagels, sandwhiches and other menu items such as matzo ball soup.

Lakeway City Council plans to meet in person at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lakeway City Council to host in-person meeting Sept. 21

Lakeway City Council plans to meet in-person Sept. 21 for the first time since March, when the spread of COVID-19 prompted meeting restrictions.

Pflugerville's testing location is operated from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Saturday where a maximum of 300 people can be tested each day at the site. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Coronavirus testing site in Pflugerville to move and more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

Kido Home launched in late August offering preschool classes in a virtual setting. (Courtesy Kido)
River Place preschool Kido launches virtual learning platform

The Kido Home platform is available for children ages 2-6 and will feature online small-group classes led by trained instructors.

Trustees met Sept. 17 to discuss reopening campuses. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)(Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Eanes ISD prepares for roughly half its students to return to campus Sept. 21

Eanes ISD officials met virtually for a special called meeting Sept. 17 to discuss reopening campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Central Health administrative building in Austin
Central Health finalizes budget with increased tax rate, more health care services for low-income residents

Local health care district Central Health is budgeting a nearly $20 million increase in health care delivery services for Austin’s low-income residents.

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Baylor Scott & White Health to host 9 Austin-area drive-thru flu shot clinics

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock.