Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2019

Currently: 66° — Complete forecast

THIS PLACE:

One couple, two kids, 40 openings

With guarded hopes, they vie to help open hot dog stand on the Strip

pinks

Leila Navidi

Jennifer Rogers and fiance Steven Maples wait with their children, Kevin, 2, and Peter, 9 months, at Red Rock Resort during a job fair Tuesday. The openings — in kitchen work, service and management — are for a local outpost of a famous Hollywood hot dog stand, Pink’s, that is to open outside Planet Hollywood on the Strip.

For Information

  • Pink's Las Vegas is still accepting job applications. You can inquire by e-mail at [email protected].

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Beyond the Sun

Steven Maples and his fiancee, Jennifer Rogers, are sitting in the back of a ballroom at Red Rock Resort, each waiting to be called for a brief job interview. Jennifer is holding their 2-year-old son, Kevin, on her hip, his blond head resting on her chest. Steven is rocking their 9-month-old son, Peter, in a car seat.

Day care is a luxury the family can’t afford. They just moved back to Las Vegas after taking care of some family business in Oklahoma. They’ve been back in town about a week and both parents are looking for work.

Maples is called in for his interview. He has, at most, about five minutes to make an impression.

“I like hard work, I can’t sit still, I need to be moving,” Maples says. “I’ve worked construction, and I know it’s not part of the job, but if you need heavy things moved, I could do that, too. Whatever it takes.”

The man on the other side of the table asks Maples, “What do you know about Pink’s Hot Dogs?”

For the uninitiated, Pink’s is a hot dog stand in Hollywood. At 70 years old it is, by local standards, as ancient and sacred as the Parthenon. Maybe more so, judging by the long lines for late-night chili dogs. And now, the name and menu have been licensed to a Las Vegas business partnership that, in a month, will open a Pink’s on the Strip, right out in front of Planet Hollywood.

It needs dishwashers, bussers, cooks and prep cooks, cashiers and a stock manager — about 40 jobs starting at about $10 an hour. During a job fair Monday and Tuesday, about 220 people applied.

Flipping through the applications, it looks like most of them will take any job at Pink’s.

“I have experience as a busser, but am open to any position available” ... “Looking forward to anything” ... “open” ... “busboy, anything” ... “anything that’s available” ... “labor, Anything.”

At a time when Las Vegas’ unemployment rate is over 11 percent, the challenge isn’t finding people to apply for jobs, it’s sorting through them.

Anthony Meidenbauer is doing some of the sorting. He’s the corporate chef for Pink’s Las Vegas, in charge of setting up the restaurant and training its staff. But first, he needs to hire one.

One-by-one, he asks people what their last jobs were. He tells them a little about Pink’s history in Hollywood, says he wants people who can keep a big smile on their faces through anything because the Las Vegas hot dog stand will be overrun with foot traffic from the Strip, and asks them if they have any questions.

Meidenbauer’s major screening question is hidden in the middle of his patter. It’s when he says “big smile.” He’s looking for people who react with a smile. “I can teach people to put a bun on a hot dog, but I can’t teach them to smile all the time,” he says.

He’s talking to ex-blackjack dealers, laid-off bussers, grocery clerks, moms reentering the workforce and people who moved here for jobs. The men tend to sit upright, with their hands folded or their arms crossed. Women tend to lean forward with their hands on the table and eyes wide.

More women than men catch the cue to smile.

Steven Maples barely catches it, with a small, nervous smile. He seems to do better in the “Any questions” portion, when he talks animatedly about his comfort with cash registers, cleaning up, heavy lifting and anything at all that might be needed of him.

Afterward, he says his interview seemed to go pretty well.

His fiancee, Jennifer, isn’t so sure about hers.

“I walked in with two kids, so who knows?”

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