- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - About two weeks after opening Sunnyside Diner, co-owner Aly Branstetter is coming close to filling every position at the restaurant.

“We’re still in the process of hiring a couple more line cooks and waitstaff,” she said.

Branstetter said the problem is finding the right balance when hiring employees.

“There’s a fine line between having to train someone and those who still need the basic skills,” she said. “But honestly, if an applicant comes to me and they are motivated and I can see they are a self-starter, then I’ll hire them.”

Bransetter said she has hired good employees at the diner, but thinks it’s mostly because of the reputation she has with business partner Shannon Roper. The two have been operating S&B;’s Burger Joint since 2010 and Hillbilly’s Po’boys and Oysters since 2013.

“One of the things we stress at all restaurants is the quality of life for our employees, whether it’s at work or outside of business,” Branstetter said.

Food service and drinking establishments have added about 8,100 jobs since May 2015, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The Journal Record (http://bit.ly/29oVfdO ) reports that jobs have grown by 7.47 percent at full-service restaurants and by 5.91 percent at limited-service eating places.

Dusty Freeman, Fassler Hall general manager, said his restaurant has been in the forefront of the evolution in Midtown since it opened in December 2014.

He said they didn’t feel the economic hit when the oil and gas industry declined in Oklahoma.

“Everything has gone pretty smooth,” Freeman said. “All of the locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are doing well. We’re fixing to open Yokozuna, sushi and Korean infusion restaurant, in Oklahoma City this fall.”

Oklahoma Restaurant Association President and CEO Jim Hopper said the food service industry growth is a good problem to have.

“Any time you can create jobs, it’s a good thing,” Hopper said. “There will be competition among restaurants but it’s a good thing because it generates good tax revenue for the state.”

Hopper said more people are dining out in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas and that Texas and Arkansas are having booms as well.

He said it’s important for consumers to have more choices, but it also benefits young people because it provides opportunities for them to enter the workforce.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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