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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 15, 2017 5 years ago

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Those burgers won't cook themselves.

Three days after Hurricane Irma blew through the Tampa Bay area, many national restaurant chain locations remained closed.

Tampa-based Checkers & Rally's Inc., however, had five locations staffed and serving hot food on the afternoon of Monday — just a day after the full brunt of Irma's fury.

Terri Snyder, Checkers & Rally's Inc. chief marketing officer and senior vice president, says the decision reaped immediate rewards, with the restaurants seeing sales increases ranging from 40% to 100%. But more importantly, she adds, it resulted in hot food and beverages served to shell-shocked residents without power, and it got hourly workers — many of whom survive on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis — back on the clock and earning money.

With many hourly employees unable to make it to work, however, it's been an unusual staffing situation: headquarters office staffers, even members of the executive team like Snyder, are pitching in.

“Everyone from the home office is going out to work at our restaurants” this week, she says, adding that she was out picking up fallen tree limbs at a Tampa Checkers restaurant the afternoon of Sept. 11. “In Tampa, we have 66 restaurants,” Snyder says in a Sept. 13 interview. “Fifty-one are open; 15 are still closed. If they are closed, it's because a tree is down or they have no power. And employees who want to work, if their store is closed, we will find them work.”

By opening back up well before many competitors, “you get people to try the brand who might not have tried it before,” Snyder says. “But getting employees back to work, that's just as important.”

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