FERNDALE, Mich. (FOX 2) - Working in the service industry is hard - even before a global pandemic - but that job with limited hours, tables, and multiple shutdowns over the past 15 months has been a monumental job. Now a Ferndale based restaurant is going to give all of its hard-workers a well-earned paid vacation by closing each location for a week.
Bobcat Bonnies announced that it will pay its workers NOT to come to work for a whole week. Owner Matthew Buskard said the five locations employ a total of 225 employees - and all are getting the break that he's calling an investment in the people.
"Every single employee - every single store - is closing for a full week. We're paying them to take a week off of paid vacation," he said. "If you have a choice of investing in your people or investing in savings and stuff, I would say invest in the people right now."
Buskard was inspired by Maiz Mexican Cantina in Ypsilanti close its doors for a week and give employees a paid week off,
"Something that we saw another restaurant do - and it was something I was jealous of. I was like - crap - I wish we had the funds to do that," he said.
It wasn't something he could do - until some grant money came through from the Small Business Administration's restaurant revitalization fund.
"Right there in the title is exactly what I'm trying to do: I'm trying to revitalize. Revitalize our staff a little bit, they've worked hard," Buskard said.
Through the pandemic, the restaurants have dealt with carryout, tents, igloos, capacity limits, mask confusion, and disrespectful customers.
"I think sometimes we forget that people in the service industry are people too," Buskard said. "They want to feel like their employer cares about them."
Matt says they're looking past the pandemic and are opening their sixth location with a new restaurant in Toledo. But he's also looking to expand to other communities in Michigan.
"We got a lot of great things happening and we're really excited to be where we are," he said.
With all the COVID restrictions being lifted on July 1, the company is excited about where they'll be from June 28th through July 5th: taking a well-deserved rest to recharge.
"We're going to close up for that whole week. Let's have some fun - you're going to be paid for it - and let's come back and focus on what is hopefully going to be our new start to normal," he said.