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Buckhead restaurant owner finds ways to make staff feel appreciated amid pandemic struggles

"It's about the relationships the culture. You have to be kind and nice. Money is not everything," Mimmo said.

BUCKHEAD, Ga. — The competition is stiff for servers, bartenders, cooks, and food prep staff for restaurants booking up reservations now that people are going back out to eat.  

Chef Mimmo, owner of Botica in Buckhead says owners need to make their employees feel appreciated to keep them at work.

Chef Mimmo opened Botica in January of this year. 

"We opened during the pandemic and that's savage in a way!" Mimmo said.

While the restaurant is new, he's worked with a lot of the same employees for 10 years. He relates to his employees, by speaking their language, literally. 

"I speak Spanish, English, Arabic. Italian, a little bit," he said. 

He has coffee with them every morning before they get to work and makes sure he's really listening to them.

"It's about the relationships, the culture. You have to be kind and nice. Money is not everything," Mimmo said.

He said he pays his employees a competitive wage because he wants to keep them, but he also says it's the right thing to do.

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"Flexible schedule, the pay, of course, has to be there, but also the atmosphere," Mimmo said.  

While restaurant workers are leaving in droves for better pay, more flexibility, and an easier work environment, Mimmo said he works hard to stand out. 

"Good, easy-going, not corporate, like family," he said. 

While the restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association, food prices are not rising as quickly in Georgia as they are in other parts of the country. 

When they do rise, Mimmo said they'll have to roll with it. 

"The worst time for restaurants in 100 years. We could not plan a pandemic, we survived, and I think if you continue to do good and to keep people around for longer, you'll succeed," he said. 

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