RAVENSWOOD — With less than two weeks to go before the anticipated April 8 opening of its new Lawrence Avenue store, Mariano's still has hundreds of jobs to fill.
The store will ultimately employ more than 600 people, with approximately 400 staff members already on board, according to Jess Terry, Mariano's chief human resources officer.
"It's definitely more people than we've hired for before," he said. "We want to make sure we have the right number."
On Thursday, a job fair held at the store, 1800 W. Lawrence Ave., had already drawn more than 250 people by the midway point of the eight-hour session.
"We've been quite humbled by the response from every job fair," said Terry.
A large number of applicants have come from the immediate neighborhood, he said, many with backgrounds in the food service and hospitality industries.
"Their experiences are pretty transferable," he said.
Hollis Rogers, a Ravenswood resident with previous hotel experience, had already been through a first round of interviews on Thursday and was waiting to meet with the store's director when he spoke with DNAinfo Chicago.
Not currently employed, Rogers said he heard about the job fair through a friend.
"I'm looking for whatever's available," said Rogers. "They're expanding and that's a good sign."
Tonia Farmer of Uptown arrived at the job fair at noon and, like Rogers, had made it to a second round of interviews.
"I'm willing to wait," said the mother of three, as the clock ticked toward 3 p.m. "You gotta do what you gotta do."
A cosmetology student at Truman College, Farmer was hoping to nab a full-time position.
"I'm excited because it's new," she responded when asked what drew her to Mariano's. "I'm looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people."
Though the Ravenswood store will employ people in traditional grocery store roles — cashiers, stocking, produce, bagging — plenty of more unusual gigs are available.
"We're doing menu sushi," said Terry. "We have bartenders."
Most of the jobs would be part-time, but full-time positions were still open in areas including customer service, he said.
Qualified applicants looking for a specific job already filled at the Ravenswood location would be pointed to other Mariano's stores, according to Terry.
"We're not going to turn away great talent," he said.
A final job fair is scheduled for Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Ravenswood store. Terry advised interested candidates to bring a resume and dress professionally.
"Certainly if you have experience, that's awesome. But the number one thing we look for is a great positive attitude," he said.
Terry also recommended that attendees block out a significant amount of time in their schedule to allow for multiple rounds of interviews — hiring is done on site, as opposed to calling candidates back at a later date.
Said Terry, "They could walk out with a new career in their hand."