Businesses stepping up to help employees during COVID-19

With the announcement coming down Friday, March 20, that all restaurants close their dining rooms at midnight and go entirely to carry out and delivery orders only, local restaurants have had to change strategy perhaps like they never have before.

Ye Olde Brothers Brewery manager Christy Skerrett was ready for the news that hit and started preparing for it earlier in the week.

Her game plan is to keep her employees busy by doing other jobs around the restaurant. Those jobs include cleaning and detailing the restaurant and the equipment from top to bottom as well as having some employees chop up wood to have a supply ready to go when things do return to normal.
Skerrett has made it known she cares a great deal for her employees and wants to do anything she can to help them through this challenging time created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had discussions on this earlier in the week and we want to be able to do anything we can to keep the employees working. Without the other business the owners have (Larry and Jerry Rolison), we wouldn’t be able to do something like this. I’m glad we can.”

While Ye Olde is remaining open, Juana’s Pagoda’s and Sailors Grill closed last week. However, owner Kevin Rudzki said he has encouraged all of his employees to seek unemployment benefits.

Rudzki is also working to see if he can create a stipend with any leftover money he has once bills are paid. He will use any assistance received from the state and federal levels of government to help his employees out as well if possible.

“Our hands are tied but we are doing the best we can to help them,” Rudzki said.

Windjammers on the Pier is also shutting its doors for the time being due to public areas of the beach now closed. Manager Tamara Fountain said her employees have received paychecks early and all tips have been paid out.
She is also looking into providing information about assistance as well as food support for employees that may need help. Fountain said the food support will hinge on what she has in the inventory.

Skerrett is doing something along those lines as well, pointing out she is willing to sell perishable items at cost to employees.

No restaurant owner is sure what the future holds at this point. Many are hopeful they can stay open through this uncertain period of time.

Fountain told the Navarre Press earlier Friday that everyone is “kind of flying blind here.”

Rudzki is hoping to be ready to resume business as usual once things do return to normal.

“Once we get back open, we want to be ready to go,” Rudzki said. “We just don’t know when that will be yet.”

In an email to customers, Winn Dixie made a hiring announcement. The email said in part, “Due to the impact of COVID-19 on hospitality and restaurant industries, we are hiring additional associates to be neighborhood heroes in serving customers and communities.

We are offering positions to individuals throughout the Southeast who have been affected by restricted working hours as a result of mandated store and restaurant closures.”

Anyone interested in applying can visit their local Winn Dixie or


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