Cuba Libre restaurant sign
Credit: Courtesy of Cuba Libre

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Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in Penn Quarter is looking to hire 60 people now that restaurants and bars officially have the green light to fully reopen in D.C. Friday. The company knows it’s a tall order given that workers are in high demand in the District and across the country.

 “We find ourselves with a great deal of outside seating with warm weather coming and full occupancy inside,” says Cuba Libre CEO Barry Gutin. “To staff all that is challenging. We’ve taken a look at our competitiveness and added a number of perks.”

The company is dangling some curious carrots like $250 “welcome bonuses” for new employees and additional $600 referral bonuses that new or existing employees can request to receive in cryptocurrency. The goal, according to Gutin, is to differentiate the company from other employers who are also trying to hire. “It’s a modern world,” he says. “Generally [it’s a] younger workforce we’re hiring. We thought that would excite them and intrigue them and they might be able to put that money aside as an investment.”

Mining new cryptocurrency coins can have significant environmental consequences because the process can require a large amount of energy. According to the Sierra Club, Bitcoin’s annual energy consumption is comparable to the energy consumption of entire nations, among them Argentina and Ukraine. Even Elon Musk announced this month, after being portrayed as a bad guy in multiple Saturday Night Live sketches, that Tesla would suspend Bitcoin payments.

Gutin offered no comment when asked if he considered the environmental impact of cryptocurrency.

Cuba Libre also says it’s offering increased pay and new employee benefits. According to the company’s listing on Workstream, servers are offered $5 an hour, plus tips and line cooks are offered $16 to $18 per hour. They assert that “line-level” employees average $23 per hour. Full-time employees (30 or more hours per week, according to Gutin) can sign up for healthcare coverage and are afforded paid time off.

Some of Cuba Libre’s newer benefits include a tuition-reimbursement program for completion of a personal finance course at the UDC Community College, a job and social skills training program, and free Spanish and English lessons. The latter has been popular at other restaurants in D.C. “Recent immigrants need the help,” Gutin says of the language lessons. “It’s not just for work communication. It’s for life.”

The Cuban restaurant, which also has locations in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Orlando, Florida, with more on the way, is looking to hire servers, server assistants, hosts, line cooks, bussers, bartenders, cooks, dishwashers, and other positions. They’re also relaunching their Latin dance nights and are looking for greeters and bottle servers.

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, 801 9th St. NW; (202) 408-1600;