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Port Aransas Dairy Queen struggling to attract workers with higher wages

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Posted at 6:08 AM, Mar 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-27 10:16:22-04

A Port Aransas fast food joint is increasing wages to attract more workers but said it's still having no success. One reason is transportation.

Edward Brandon Novogradac is a comanager at Dairy Queen, located at 307 W. Cotter Ave, Port Aransas, Texas, who commutes five to six times a week from Corpus Christi. He said it takes him about 34 minutes driving on 361.

Novogradac said he decided to work in Port Aransas because the pay is better than in Corpus Christi locations.

“Your hometown is starting at like $9 or $10, and over here it’s almost double that,” Novogradac said.

Jesse Mendoza, the general manager of Dairy Queen, said there are 11 employees right now.

Mendoza said for the past three years, he has been trying to hire people to work for up to $18 an hour based on experience.

“For the amount of money that we pay here, we still can’t get them in here to come to work,” Mendoza said.

He said it’s hard to get workers from other areas like Corpus Christi, Ingleside and even Aransas Pass because of transportation.

“A lot of times, it is a 20, 30, 40-minute drive. If you take the bus in from Corpus, it’s going to be at least two hours to get here,” Mendoza said.

And if you are traveling from Aransas Pass by ferry, sometimes the wait is just as long.

“And if it’s a really busy summer, that ferry could be really backed up for two hours,” Mendoza said.

“Good luck trying to get a ride with Uber. They're so busy,” Novogradac said.

Novogradac said it’s also a struggle to get younger workers looking for summer employment.

“Well, there’s not really youngster’s here. It's honestly more of a vacation place,” Novogradac said.

Mendoza said they have a 100-day window from right after Labor Day to when school starts to pay and make budget for the rest of the year.

“We have to pay that amount to try and get them in here. You know, on the way in here, they are passing the same restaurant, and we have to be really competitive with that,” Mendoza said.

Novogradac said despite the over half-hour commute, it’s still worth it.

KRIS 6 News reached out to Workforce Solutions to see if Port Aransas had more job openings per capita than other Coastal Bend cities but was told they didn't have the numbers readily available. There are over 16,000 job openings in the Coastal Bend

If you are looking for seasonal work, Mendoza said to come into his location in Port Aransas and fill out an application.