The gift Dawn Furney gives her 10 employees at Dawn’s Café in downtown Colon is expensive.
But the return, Furney said, is well worth the expense.
Gift? Furney staff are granted two weeks of paid vacation during the Christmas vacation.
Furney said she wished she could do more, but is confident her staff know how important they are to her.
Thus, the Dawn’s Café is closed until December 30. Those with school-aged children will be able to spend all their Christmas holidays with their children. An employee plans to take her family to Florida.
Furney said the idea germinated over a year ago, when the pandemic was initially halted. The restaurant had a steady stream of patrons for breakfast and lunch, but business tended to slow down by mid-afternoon and – with the exception of the annual Magic Get-Together in August – Dawn’s Care no. didn’t always draw a big crowd for dinner time. .
With takeout being the only option for much of 2020, a few of its employees have stepped up their efforts.
“I had a small number of staff volunteers to cook on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings so that we could at least pay our monthly expenses as a business,” Furney said. “I gave them money to help me, but their work and our takeout business was just enough to pay our monthly utility charges and keep the business going. “
Later in 2020, Furney had a meeting with his staff and a deal was made. First, Furney said she wanted to reduce the restaurant’s opening hours and be open only for breakfast and lunch, from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Then she told the staff about a schedule change.
“I said I would let you all go from five days a week to four days a week, so you work four days, three days,” Furney said. “I offered to give them a few more dollars (per hour) on the increase, and then I told them about the two weeks of paid vacation at Christmas.”
Although the restaurant was not open for in-person meals a year ago, she has kept her promise as Christmas 2021 approaches. She said there was a caveat to the offer. , However.
“I added that in order for this to work for both parties, I need you to introduce yourself. I’m dependent on you and I need you here, so show up four days a week, ”Furney said. “If you’re sick and you’re really sick, fine. But please show up to work. I said, ‘You do your part and I will do my part.’ “
Dawn’s Care has been open after COVID since February and it has defied the trend being seen by other restaurants and businesses nationwide. Attendance at work has not been a problem, its staff have a three-day break each week, and the incentive for two-week paid vacation has created a positive work environment.
She estimates that the gift cost her around $ 10,000, not including the loss of income from daily operations.
Nonetheless, Furney said his staff deserved a break.
“Really, they do. They work hard. We are a very busy restaurant and sometimes it is not such an easy job, ”she added. “It’s actually brutal in the summer and sometimes they have to go six or seven hours before they can get away from the grill or leave the dining room just to have a quick smoke.”
Furney said the staff called her “Ma”. The gesture, she said, underscores that the team is tight-knit and that Furney is recognized as the restaurant’s matriarch.
“You have to show that appreciation, you just have to do it,” she said. “But you know what? It’s really not that hard to be nice.
Furney, who has owned Dawn’s for more than 13 years and worked for 12 years for what was then M&M Grill, said she always took the advice of her former bosses who trained her.
“They said to me, ‘If you want good help you have to pay good help and you have to treat them like family if you want them to stay,” she said. “This, of course, means more to me now since I own a business and that is as true then as it is today. “
Furney said she plans to continue the two-week paid vacation offer next year.
While the restaurant is temporarily closed, Furney is having interior work done, including the installation of new cabins, professional carpet cleaning, a new grill hood and the addition of two six-foot grates. They replace the four foot and three foot side-by-side grids.