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Peabody Chamber cooks up help for restaurants

This article was published 11 months ago.

PEABODY — The city, in partnership with the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce (PACC) is stepping up its efforts to help restaurants that continue to struggle in the face of a stubborn pandemic and tight labor market.

The partnership’s mission is to connect local restaurant owners with the culinary program directors from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School (PVMHS) and the Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School.  

A kickoff networking event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14 at 9:30 a.m. in the Wiggin Auditorium at Peabody City Hall.

PACC Executive Director Beth Amico said the program is expected to provide mutual benefits to all participants. 

“This initial forum is designed simply to establish relationships between our member businesses and culinary staff at Peabody High and Essex Tech,” said Amico. “Ultimately, we hope to create an employment pipeline between the schools and the restaurants which will benefit students and business owners alike.”

Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt, Jr.  said that when Amico reached out to his office, he enthusiastically embraced the concept. He not only invited the high  school’s culinary staff members to attend the forum, but also offered to host the event at City Hall.

“Many of our restaurants in Peabody are small, family-run businesses which have really struggled in recent years,” Bettencourt said. “Now they face staffing challenges heading into the summer. I think it’s important that we continue to support them during these difficult times while also helping to provide our students with real-world industry experience.”

Champions Pub owner Phil Mitchell said he is a huge fan of the program. He said he has used culinary students from North Shore Community College in the past, but all of them were unsuccessful due to space constraints of the Champions kitchen and its high-pressure environment.

“This is a great program, a tremendous opportunity for many restaurants that typically have larger kitchens and line cooking, but we simply don’t have the space,” he said. “We have one guy manning all stations, and really no place for anyone else, so for us, we are just not a good match. Having said that, I am certain there are many places who will be great matches for these students. For them, it’s a win-win for everyone and while it doesn’t work for us, I encourage other restaurants to get involved as it can have huge benefits and it’s a chance to support your fellow business owners and give kids jobs at the same time.”

Anne Marie Tobin can be reached at

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