Restaurant owners appreciate landlord’s advice to ‘pay employees’ instead of rent

Updated: Mar. 18, 2020 at 10:54 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - As more and more restaurants make the difficult decision to close or change the way they do business, one Jonesboro property owner wants to make it a bit easier for them.

Young Investment Company announced Tuesday night on social media it would “not expect its restaurant tenants to pay April rent.”

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The company’s downtown Jonesboro properties house several of the area’s favorite restaurants including Eleanor’s Pizzeria, Roots, Main Street Coffee, The Parsonage, and City Wok.

Instead of paying rent, Clay Young urged owners to “pay your employees and take care of your family. We will get through this together.”

“This is a new experience for everyone," said Karl Lowe, co-owner and executive chef at Roots.

More people staying home means less money in the restaurants’ pockets, and that of their employees.

“This past weekend, we saw a 60 percent cut in attendance in what we were bringing in revenue-wise," said John Myers, co-owner and chef at The Parsonage.

Both he and Lowe are praising Young for his act of kindness.

“I’ve been in this industry for 27 years and I’ve never seen anything like this," Lowe said.

Both he and Myers are heeding Young’s advice.

“Mr. Young doing that for us this month...that money goes straight to the employees," Myers said.

Ensuring that the lights are on and mouths are fed, even for their staff.

“We consider them family, we don’t consider them employees,” Lowe said.

Not having to pay next month’s rent lifts a weight off their shoulders, yet both chefs are concerned about what comes next.

“That old story about the grasshopper and the ant, we have to be the ant now," Myers said. “We got to really plan and store and calculate everything that is happening and store it up.”

“This is a crisis that the restaurant industry has never faced before," said Paula Lowe, co-owner and executive chef at Roots. “There’s nothing that we can change. Every day is day-by-day.”

Young is modest about the decision. As small business owners, he says everyone is hurting right now.

“It was just the right thing to do,” he said.

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