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Santa Rosa hospitality job fair draws hundreds

  • Julie Zurlieven, right, of Oakland, meets with Veronica Fernandez, left, the human resources manager at the Vintners Inn and John Ash & Co., during the hospitality job fair held at Sonoma County Job Link in Santa Rosa, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

A dozen employers, including Rohnert Park's Graton Resort & Casino, on Wednesday drew several hundred job seekers to a Santa Rosa employment fair for the hospitality industry.

The businesses told Sonoma County Job Link, the fair's host, that they were seeking more than 900 workers. The casino, which plans to open this year, alone was seeking to fill 600 positions -- the first of more than 1,500 workers it plans to employ.

A county official expressed satisfaction with the event and said more businesses are asking for help in finding workers.

"The number of hiring events we're doing has been skyrocketing," said Steven Czegus, the Job Links manager.

The county conducted 30 events of varying sizes in a six-month period ending in December, he said. That was roughly the number that were done in the previous 12 months.

In the first hour of the three-hour fair, more than 240 job seekers had signed in. About 275 workers attended the event last year.

Wednesday's employers included Korbel, Panda Express, Burke's Canoes, Vintner's Inn/John Ash & Co. and Sonoma Sterling Limousines.

Lisa Shatnawi of the Palms Grill in Sonoma said the company is hiring 60 workers for a second restaurant set to open this spring in Petaluma. About 40 of those positions have yet to be filled -- everything from dishwashers to general manager.

In an age where online applications are common, Shatnawi said the job fairs remain a good venue "because we have a chance to meet people face to face."

The Lodge at Sonoma Resort & Spa was seeking to fill 19 positions, including those for front desk and the food preparation and service.

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