SAN DIEGO — An international hospitality group is bringing a new restaurant location to San Diego, but before they can open the doors, they need to find the staff.

Tao Group Hospitality is bringing 150 jobs to San Diego with the opening of LAVO downtown, which will take over the old Searsucker venue on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter. However, the group is still hoping to grab the attention of applicants as they’ve filled only about half the jobs needed.

“Line cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, runners, bussers, really the heart of the house. That’s probably the area that really would limit us opening more days, more hours, more meal periods,” said Hugo Moreno, vice president of international operations for Tao Group Hospitality.

The popular Italian restaurant concept LAVO is expanding into San Diego after first opening in Las Vegas in 2008, followed by several other large cities. The pandemic and the process to bounce back has hit even big names like Tao Group Hospitality.

“We still have some venues that aren’t able to be open seven days a week, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case here, as we are planning on being open seven nights a week,” Moreno said.

Even with more job fairs than ever before, the lack of applicants has been noticeable throughout the country and even the world, as the group has locations internationally.

After recruiting weekly since March for a mid-June opening, the last couple job fairs will take place this week. For the most-needed positions, companies are having to get competitive with compensation.

“We start at $20 an hour and move up from there based on experience. For front of the house, it’s starting at the $15 minimum wage, but obviously our gratuities are part of the conversation. We offer a $500 bonus once you’ve completed 90 days as well as full-time benefits.”

The remaining job fairs are happening at the Kimpton Palomar downtown Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.