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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA tournament is poised to bring big business for downtown bars and restaurants who desperately need the economic push. Some establishments are ramping up hiring to accommodate the flood of people. A new app created in Indy may help them stay afloat.

“You got hesitant workers, who are maybe unvaccinated, getting paid to basically sit tight,” said SnapShyft President and CEO Thor Wood. “What we are able to do is give these businesses instant access to actual restaurant, hotel, bar or catering workers.”

SnapShyft operates like Uber for workers and establishments in the hospitality industry. If a worker on the app meets the qualifications for a shift, then a restaurant can hire them to fill in. Some of these freelance employees may even work a full-time job elsewhere in the city. If the shift goes well, a company can hire that person for full-time work right off the app or employ them as needed.

“SnapShyft, they actually vet their people and so forth,” explained Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (InRLA.) “They also vet on SnapShyft some health issues as well.”

“We are putting them in good positions where they can make good money in a COVID safe environment,” said Wood. “With 40,000 workers on our platform, a business may be able to carve out 70 to 100 that are grabbing shifts for them. They can count on that they are familiar with their routine. When they have a short staff instance they can get somebody plugged in on the fly. We typically say allow for an hour because these are pros, but they have got jobs, or other obligations.”

The app is especially helpful during an influx of unexpected customers. Potential NCAA tournament surges are a relative unknown for restaurants. The app allows spots to staff adequately and ramp up through the app if need be.

“There is no telling exactly what is going to happen, and also where those fans are going to be staying,” added Ross Katz, owner of Roosters Kitchen downtown. “I jumped on SnapShyft and was able to have a dishwasher here in a matter of hours.”

“Great thing for people looking for that flexible, creative job opportunity,” said Tamm. “What comes after March Madness is always going to be the economic question for a lot of restaurants.”

Some places have been able to maintain staff through reduced business hours and paycheck protection program (PPP) loans. New restaurant revitalization grants will bring much needed financial relief. The total package is $28.6 billion dollars.

“Set aside a $5 billion for small businesses under $500,000. First 21 days are geared toward woman-owned, minority-owned, disadvantaged businesses, as well as veteran-owned restaurants,” detailed Tamm. “Let’s say a restaurant lost $500,000 last year, and they received $400,000 in any way shape or form from PPP, they would be eligible for $100,000.”