HOMEWOOD, Ill. — The owner of Aurelio’s recently told a franchise owner to take down a sign which spurred controversy and is looking to hire hundreds of people to meet full reopening demand.
Although the Homewood location can allow 100% capacity with the state’s full reopening, owner Joe Aurelio won’t be able to because he can’t hire enough staff back.
“It’s hard, our owners who don’t work every day are out delivering pizzas, washing dishes,” said Aurelio. “It’s stressful for the owners and staff.”
His father started the business in 1959 and there are three family-owned locations, plus 35 franchises. One franchise in Bourbonnais recently came under fire for posting a sign that mentioned “government handouts.”
“Sadly, due to government handouts, no one wants to work anymore. Therefore, we are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did choose to come to work. They chose to serve you today.”
Aurelio said once he was made aware of the sign, he immediately called franchise owners Mike and Amy Mills.
“Once I was notified I immediately called the franchise owners and let them know I did not approve of it and it should be taken down,” Aurelio said.
The Mills said they did not mean any harm by the sign and just wanted to highlight their short staff.
“We wanted people to see that we have employees here and wanted to make sure that folks are patient,” they said. “We never intended any harm whatsoever to anybody.”
As Illinois moves into Phase 5 Friday, it may take some time for the restaurant group to catch up. Adam Schurch worked at Aurelio’s in his teens and early 20s. He came back on staff about a month ago after working in landscaping.
“Try to give the servers the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “They are busy, so is the kitchen and carry out.”
The company is looking to hire 350 more people to meet the new demand.
“We’re just looking back to getting normal, life was so much fun pre-COVID,” Joe Aurelio said. “We’ve all learned a lesson, family is the most important. Just want to get back to business, so hope to see you.”