Local Restaurant Owner Shares How He Competes in Tight Labor Market

Owner of Ling & Louie’s, Ling’s Wok Shop hopes to attract & retain employees via “Conscious Capitalism”


The labor market right now is tight, particularly in the hospitality industry, and it’s tough to attract talent. But unlike most other smaller restaurateurs, the CEO of Ling’s Wok Shop and Ling and Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill plans to grow with a multi-pronged strategy based on giving back to the community. This will include traditional recruitment, opportunities for growth and development, and giving employees a deeper connection to their work through a culture of community philanthropy.

John Banquil, Jr., who took over the Ling & Louie’s brand in 2019, was recently named a 2022 Phoenix Titan 100 after being nominated by an employee. This program recognizes the area’s most accomplished business leaders based on exceptional leadership, vision and passion. Banquil hopes this honor will illustrate his commitment to “conscious capitalism” and help him recruit like-minded employees who will join his team not just for a job, but for a purpose.

“Giving back to the communities we serve and growing organically is very important to me,” Banquil said. “We want to do this the right way and find partners and employees that care about their communities and give back just as much to the community as the community gives to them.”

Each month, for example, Ling’s Wok Shop’s “Cooking for a Cause” donates $5 to a chosen charity every time a designated chef-inspired dish is ordered. Also, during the height of the pandemic, Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill provided meals for Honor Health and Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale Fire Department, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix and Child Crisis AZ.

In addition, Banquil said the Ling & Louie’s family of restaurants—which has about 75 employees currently—is looking to hire, retain and nurture employees by offering continuing education and a career path. “We’re always looking to cultivate leaders,” he noted.

Full-time employees get benefits and salaried employees get full benefits and bonuses, Banquil explained. If you start as an hourly employee such as a server or busser, there’s a plan to help you move and advance from hourly to then salaried management. “Every step of the way as you move up, different incentives and bonuses are included,” he said.

Banquil said the Great Resignation happened because employers didn’t give employees reasons to be happy, and his goal is to do that through providing opportunities for self-development and growth and giving back to the community.

“It’s not just a job,” Banquil stated. “It’s the culture, it’s the relationships you’re building, it’s how you feel when you come into work.”

The Cooking for a Cause program is ongoing. Local non-profits interested in partnering with Ling’s Wok Shop can contact Banquil here.

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