Sheriff's restaurant raids open up East Valley jobs - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Sheriff's restaurant raids open up East Valley jobs

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Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 10:34 am

Valley Pei Wei restaurants launched a hiring frenzy over the weekend following last week’s arrests of 26 employees.

“They are definitely hiring to replace those positions,” said Rachel Gillman, who works for a public relations firm that represents Pei Wei.

Last week, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office arrested 26 employees of the Pei Wei Asian restaurant chain, which is based in Scottsdale and is part of the P.F. Chang’s China Bistro group of restaurants.

The arrests came after an investigation found more than 100 workers may have used false documents to gain employment.

Following a newspaper advertisement over the weekend, the Pei Wei website listed job openings at four store locations, including locations in Tempe and Gilbert.

“They are hiring front of the house and back,” Gillman said, noting the available job positions include cashiers, line cooks, dishwashers and more.

On-site job interviews are taking place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday, according to the company’s website.

According to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, an investigation was launched in June after the office got a tip that some employees were illegal immigrants.

Deputies ran surveillance operations on several restaurants and checked corporate records, the sheriff’s office said Friday. Deputies found at least 121 of the company’s 800 employees in Maricopa County appeared to use false documents, including Social Security numbers. More than 100 people who had their identities stolen told the sheriff’s office they will assist in prosecution.

Kiara Jackson, 19, was one of a handful of people waiting for job interviews at the south Tempe store Tuesday morning. The Mesa Community College student said she was just entering the job market again after starting college. She heard about the job openings from the news.

“I guess people who used to work here got their jobs taken away,” she said.

She is hoping her previous restaurant experience will help land a dishwasher or cashier position.

The Tempe location has a sign on the door stating it is temporarily closed. A second sign lists interview times and locations as well as a notice for a signing bonus after a preset time of employment.

Pei Wei operates 19 restaurants in Arizona. The company has been cooperating with the investigation, according to previous releases from the sheriff’s office.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or mreese@evtrib.com

• Tribune writer Garin Groff contributed to this report.

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