As a manager of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street in New York City 10 years ago, Dan Amato recalls job seekers lining up for four city blocks on the eve of mass interviews held by the hotel.

"We had people that camped out the night before just as though they were trying to get tickets to a Madonna concert," Amato said, a tinge of envy in his voice.

Today, as general manager of the soon-to-open Hyatt Regency Reston, Amato should be so lucky.

Faced with the daunting prospect of finding 2,000 workers in time for the opening of the $350 million Reston Town Center in Fairfax County this fall, Hyatt officials and other Town Center employers are planning extraordinary efforts to attract service workers in a largely white-collar county where the unemployment rate hovers around 2 percent.

About 25 shops and restaurants, along with the 515-room Hyatt, are scheduled to open in October and November. Hyatt hotel officials in particular are looking to break the mold. They are planning to spend about $20,000 to target potential employees not only through the typical avenues, such as advertisements in local newspapers, but through 5,000 direct mailings, advertising on Metrobuses, and distribution of fliers at Metrorail stations.

Hotel officials have also not ruled out importing workers from the District and elsewhere.

"We're not afraid to get real creative if we have to, and we will bus them in from West Virginia if we have to," said Amato. "If we need to, we can get a lot more creative."

Float an idea by Amato, and it seems it's been discussed. The Goodyear Blimp, you ask? "We did talk about that, it was in joking . . . a big hot air balloon over the hotel saying, 'Hyatt's hiring,' " he said.

Fairfax County has been a national leader in low unemployment for about five years, and has long been plagued by the inability to get service workers, in part because of the high cost of housing in the area.

At Hyatt, officials hope to fill 400 jobs well before the hotel's Oct. 2 opening, and hope to screen as many as 300 candidates a day during mass interviews to be held next Wednesday through Saturday. The majority of the positions are service-related, and include jobs for maintenance workers, housekeepers, waiters and front desk clerks. The hourly positions range in pay from $3.50 an hour for tipped positions to $14 an hour for non-tipped workers.

While he is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of finding help, Amato admits that he has heard "a lot of war stories" about how difficult it is to get help, and needs only to point just west of the hotel to the Hyatt Dulles, which opened a year ago and had a tough time finding help.

"We haven't staffed up yet so I don't want to seem overly confident," he said. "I wouldn't personally be handing out fliers at Metrobus stops if I thought it would be a piece of cake."

As marketing director for Reston Town Center Associates, which is developing and owns the Town Center, John Tyers also is concerned about attracting workers, and said he believes tenants will have to look beyond the county for help.

"I don't think there's any question that we are going to have to import, that we are going to have to draw some significant levels of employees from the District," Tyers said. "I think we are anticipating a tough time if past experience proves valuable."

Richard Groner, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Employment Services, agreed that Town Center employers would fare well if they expanded their job search, but that commuting and day-care issues can cause problems for far-flung employees.

"It is unlikely that they are going to find them {workers} in Fairfax County given the unemployment rates that have been published," Groner said. "To fill these jobs they are going to have to look someplace else."

Groner said he would be happy if workers were drawn from the District, where the unemployment rate was estimated at just over 7 percent in June.

"We're just interested in finding people jobs," Groner said. "It's not a matter of where people work, it's whether they work or not."