Penn National kicking off job training for casino’s food, beverage workers

on Friday, 27 July 2012.

Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ:PENN) is taking the next step in its hiring efforts for the new Columbus casino, turning its attention to interviewing and training the people who will cook the food and serve the drinks at the $400 million facility.

Standing in a kitchen at Columbus State Community College on Friday, Hollywood Casino Columbus General Manager Ameet Patel told me and other reporters that training for food and beverage workers will begin in two weeks and continue through September. The casino on Columbus’ west side is scheduled to open Oct. 8.

Columbus State was the site for the press conference because the college will help train and provide many of the 300 kitchen workers and “front-of-the-house” folks who will wait on people in the casino’s dining and bar areas. Graduates of the college’s hospitality management programs, include culinary arts and restaurant management, are expected to get first crack at the jobs. The casino will have a steakhouse, buffet, casual dining area, banquet center and sports and entertainment lounge, so Penn National is looking to hire chefs, bakers, kitchen stewards, restaurant supervisors, food and beverage servers and bartenders.

“It’s a wonderful partnership,” said Mokie Steiskal, interim dean of Columbus State’s career and technical programs. “Casinos are a new adventure for Ohio, and this is an opportunity to showcase what our students and faculty can do to support them.”

Patel said the casino will pay what he called “industry wages,” citing a $10- to $12-an-hour range for line cooks as an example. In addition, a Columbus State culinary instructor told me students in his program graduate as certified sous chefs, positioning them to make $35,000 to $40,000 fresh out of college.

Penn’s deal with Columbus State is one of three partnerships the company has to train the 2,000 employees it will have at the casino. Hondros College is training table game dealers, while Central Ohio Technical College is handling instruction for technical jobs such as slot machine technicians.

Patel said more than 40,000 people have applied for jobs at the Columbus casino. About 300 people have been hired, he said, and another 900 have pending job offers.

Staff reporter- Business First
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