Update 3/26/2020: Part of the title of this article was changed from “lays-off” to “furloughs,” after a representative from Southern Pearl Oyster House contacted BRPROUD to say “Stephen Pitcher spoke incorrectly.”
“All of our employees were in fact furloughed. Every single employee at all of our locations was furloughed. They all received a letter notifying them of this.”
The original quotes remain in the article.
BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — The newest location of Southern Pearl Oyster House in Louisiana responded to the state’s latest mandate by laying off employees, a decision management said was difficult.
“We had families that relied on us doing business to support their families,” said general manager Stephen Pitcher. “We have had to lay all the staff off because there’s no business.”
Server Linda Sivo said she was working as many hours as possible at Southern Pearl Oyster House, while pursuing a nursing degree. “In addition to going to school and working to put food on the table, I am raising my two and a half year old,” said Sivo.
When restaurants across the state were ordered to operate solely on curbside service and delivery, Southern Pearl Oyster House was not alone in the decision to downsize staff. A record 3.28 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week that ended March 21, according to a recent report from the U.S. Labor Department.
“The most difficult thing for me is telling my staff they cannot work, that there is no work,” said Pitcher.
Southern Pearl Oyster House has adapted its business in other ways, as well. The restaurant is operating off a condensed menu and offering curbside only services.
Management also made the decision to sell on-hand inventory in an effort to drive the bottom line – everything from alcohol to household essentials.
All bottles of wine on the menu, except for reserve bottles, are being offered at half-price. Customers may pick up a bottle of Copper Ridge merlot, cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay for $10. Six-packs of bottled domestic beer is available for $7, while imported six-packs are $10.
Customers may also pick up essential household items, like toilet paper, paper towels, milk, bread and more. A full list of available items and order guide are listed at the bottom of this article.
Southern Pearl Oyster House has added ‘Dinner for Four’ meals to the condensed menu. Orders for the dinners are available for pick-up between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. as long as the customer places the order before 3 p.m. at any of the restaurants locations throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana.
A spokesperson for the company said they are also working to meet the needs of the community in the safest way possible for both guests and employees. “We are simply trying to adapt to what is happening and changing daily to survive,” said spokesperson Kelsey Griffin.
“We want to survive for ourselves, for our community, and for our employees, so they have a place to come back to and work at, when this is all over.”