The impact of COVID-19 has hit every industry. From local stores to retail giants, employers have been forced to adapt to the closing and reopening of the economy in order to fight this unprecedented pandemic. One industry hit particularly hard has been restaurants.
With local and state governments throughout the country issuing stay-at-home orders and closing any nonessential services, restaurants who rely on bringing customers into their dining rooms to support themselves were largely left with one-of-two options: either laying off or furloughing many of their employee’s. However, one restaurant brand, Bloomin’ Brands, the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carraba’s Italian Grill, and other popular chain restaurants has thus far been able to weather the storm in a rather unique way.
In an announcement made in mid-April, the company was proud to say that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic they did not lay off or furlough any of their employees. For hourly employees who were directly impacted by the closure of dining rooms, the company provided relief pay and free meals until the dining rooms could reopen.
Bloomin’s Chief Executive Officer, David Deno, announced that he suspended his salary and that the Board of Directors suspended their cash retainer. Deno said that the decision to put Bloomin’s employees first came easy, adding “we have always taken great pride in taking care of the over 90,000 employees who work in our restaurants, and those who support them at the Restaurant Support Center.”
Part of what made this decision to keep Bloomin’ employees working so important was the crucial access to benefits that many of them rely on. One of those benefits being the educational partnership Bloomin’ Brands and Johnson & Wales University have with one another.
“At Johnson & Wales University we are proud to be partnered with a company like Bloomin’ Brands, who have shown what it really means to put their employees first,” said Johnson & Wales Business Development Specialist Angelo Pitassi ’03 MBA. JWU has worked with Bloomin’ to offer all of their employees a tuition benefit to further their education while still being able to gain workforce experience. With over 80-programs offered one-hundred-percent online, all of Bloomin’ Brand employee’s have the chance to earn their degree in a diverse collection of programs for a discounted rate.
For Shaunya Noble ’17 ’20 MBA—Hospitality, an employee of Bloomin’ Brands for over five-years, the benefit opened up doors for her she never once even considered. “At first, I was not going to pursue my masters,” she explained. “I graduated from JWU with my bachelor’s and due to cost plus being burnt out, I decided it wasn’t the time. Somehow, I stumbled upon an article online saying JWU partnered with Bloomin’ Brands. I felt like it was a sign to start my degree.”
“We are so pleased with the Bloomin’ employees we have already come through this partnership and are looking forward to welcome ones to come,’ added Pitassi.
Visit us here if you would like to find out more information about how you can take advantage of the Bloomin’ Brands/JWU tuition benefit.