Joe Fugere, owner of pizza restaurant Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria is taking helping his employees during this pandemic to the next level by forgoing his own paycheck.
All six units of Tutta Bella are located in Seattle, where the coronavirus has taken a particular toll and Fugere wants to ensure his employees are taken care of.
“Like so many industries, our industry is struggling due to this frightening outbreak,” said Fugere. “We have 200 employees, and we want to keep them gainfully employed.”
The majority of the money from Fugere’s paycheck will go to employee payroll according to Fugere. He hasn’t decided how long his personal pay freeze will last.
“I made the decision to reserve the money I would normally take out to pay my own family and personal bills and apply that money to keeping the doors open — mostly to cover payroll,” said Fugere.
In addition to the money from Fugere’s salary, the chain is also taking steps to aid employees who may be feeling ill. Fugere and the restaurant’s managers are extending by two more months the offer of paid time off, which was originally slated to expire at the end of March.
The company’s sick leave policy prior to the virus remains in place. Employees are offered PTO with a “use it or lose it” policy, where capped rollover days end March 31. This deadline has been extended in the wake of the pandemic.
The chain is also allowing salaried managers to reduce their workweek to four days instead of five. This will allow other employees to earn that 20% pay difference.
During shifts, employees at all locations can receive a free meal. When they’re not on duty, employees, along with family members and friends dining with them, will receive 50% off the entire bill.
Additional customer benefits being offered at this time are:
- Free delivery at tuttabella.com with a minimum order of $25.
- Tutta Bella’s mobile food truck — dubbed D’Asporto — will operate in various neighborhoods serving its Neapolitan wood-fired pizza. Locations will be shared on Tutta Bella’s social feeds.
- Grab-and-go items including lasagna, meatballs, salads, sandwiches and tiramisu can be found at QFCs retail stores in locations in and around Seattle.
- Throughout March, all healthcare workers who show their badge, business card or pay stub will receive 10% off their dine-in meals at any Tutta Bella location.
The chain is also promoting its safety and sanitation protocols, which include the use of disinfectant wipes on a set schedule (including door handles, phones and computers). In addition, timers alert employees every 20 minutes to wash hands. Vendors are asked to wash hands before delivering items to the restaurant, and the chain adopted a protocol requiring general managers to report any health concerns directly to the home office.
Washington state has already seen 25 reported fatalities as a result of coronavirus and more than 260 confirmed positive cases — though Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday there could be 1,000 or more. Inslee on Wednesday announced a ban on gatherings of 250 or more people in Seattle and surrounding counties.
Fugere is also serving as co-chair of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Small Business Advisory Council and was just appointed to a COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Task Force.
The task force was created following Gov. Inslee’s announcement yesterday to expand the state’s policies to support workers and businesses. To aid small businesses, Durkan signed an executive order that includes a deferral of business and occupation taxes, expansion of the Small Business Stabilization Fund, assistance with Small Business Administration loans, and relief for utility payments, in addition to creating the task force.
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