Rafferty's Tavern in Warrnambool will give new staff members a $1000 bonus if they remain an employee until February.
General manager Mark McIlroy said the monetary incentive was one way the venue was trying to attract and retain good staff members.
The move is in response to a growing shortage of hospitality workers across the region, with cafes and restaurants struggling to retain staff due to lockdown uncertainty and job insecurity during COVID-19.
The lack of staff has forced some south-west restaurants and takeaway venues to limit their operations or close on certain days.
One Warrnambool cafe owner said he knew that when the state opens up later this year that it will be busier than ever before "but no-one in our industry has the staff to cater for that when it does happen".
Mr McIlroy said there were also less students seeking gap year employment during the pandemic which added to the problem.
"There's a real shortage out there and unfortunately we've got to offer incentives or offer something to get them back to our industry," Mr McIlroy said.
"Our industry is struggling as a whole. We're just trying it at the moment as an incentive. If they come on board and they're still here in February they get $1000.
"We're also paying above the award wage. We have to to try and incentivise these guys, kids and young people and even experienced people, to come in and work.
"We're prepared to pay," he said. "It couldn't happen at a worse time for us. It cuts out our margins but we're investing in our staff and that's the important thing.
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"If some people want a change (of career) it might be enough to give them a bit of a push and that it's worth the risk and it's worth them putting in some time."
He said for the first time ever the tavern would employ people without hospitality experience and provide three weeks of full training.
"They will shadow someone so they learn each section and each part so they're getting a good opportunity," he said. "In the old days you'd get them on and say 'carry a plate' and away you go but we've got to think of the new people and make sure we give them the opportunity to train them up in all areas."
He said Rafferty's had proven it was a great place to work and averaged between 70 and 80 employees.
Mr McIlroy said they tried to do things differently. "There's plenty of areas to work, boredom's not an issue. We'll mix it up and let them get a bit of experience everywhere."
There's also opportunities for career progression, the chance to gain transferable skills and study multiple Certificate III hospitality traineeships with South West TAFE.
He said they began advertising for staff this month in a bid to have team members fully trained for summer.
"Hopefully it's a great summer for Warrnambool," Mr McIlroy said. "It's what the town needs and I pray for everybody, that all businesses have a super summer. We need a bit of light at the end of the tunnel."
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