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Lisa Garza Chooses Her Employees Based On Looks. Guess What? So Does Everyone Else.

Yesterday morning, Pegasus ran a story criticizing the hiring practices of Lisa Garza as she ramped up for the opening of Sissy's, her new Henderson Avenue fried-chicken joint. The story focused on a request in Garza's job posting that instructed prospective front-of-the-house staff to submit a picture in tandem with a résumé.

Garza can hire any way she pleases. But a restaurant that screens servers based on how they look would seem to convey superficiality, rather than a great place to eat.

My initial reaction was, "Who cares?" Every restaurant screens their employees by how they look. Most owners are trying to create a specific environment when they open a restaurant, and they want their employees to fit their vision. Garza is simply pushing the practice out onto the internet and filtering employees before they even get through her front door. As long as she's not using it to discriminate, it's well within her right.

That said, the move does seem a bit shortsighted. Certainly a single picture does little to convey a person's personality, and Garza probably missed out on a few candidates that would have made excellent servers in addition to fitting into the "hip with a retro edge" vibe she was looking for.

Maybe Garza should have requested YouTube videos, to get an understanding of her applicants' personalities. If I were going to open a rockabilly soul food joint, I'd screen employees by the following:

  • Number of likes they have on Facebook
  • Number of tweets retweeted by certified hipster Twitter users
  • Percentage of Buddy Holly 45s in their vinyl collection
  • Number of pearl snap shirts in wardrobe
  • Sideburns size

But I'm not opening a rockabilly soul food joint, so I called Garza several hundred times yesterday to get her response, and received this email earlier today.

Hi Scott,

My experience lies in the catering industry in which it is standard practice to ask for a photo along with an application. While hiring for the staff of my new restaurant, I wanted to get a feel for their personality through their application and photo. We stopped hiring as of Thursday, and on Monday we began training a very well-rounded staff.

Thanks, Lisa

Indeed, Trinity Event Staffing, a Dallas-based company that hires and places catering staff, requests a picture submission with an online application. Garza was was just hiring her staff using the process she was used to.

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So let's get back to judging Garza on what we're supposed to: her service, and her chicken.

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