The Pelican Brewing Company made a concerted effort to help the employees it was forced to let go when the state closed inside dining at restaurants earlier this year.
Jim Prinzing, CEO of the Pelican Brewing Company, spoke to The Gazette Monday about that experience.
“When all that happened, we chose to close a few days before the county’s mandate,” Prinzing said. They “just didn’t feel good” about staying open in consideration of the health of its employees and the community.
At that point, he said, they started thinking about what could be done for their former employees and “how to keep the team whole.” They thought about ways to keep a “roof over” people’s heads and how to help them meet “their basic needs.”
“We started up a meals program and provided meals for all the former staff and their families,” he said. “We fed a couple of hundred every day and about 4,000 meals during the time we were closed.”
He said they also sent out daily communications to the former staff with any information that might be helpful, such as information on rent assistance.
He said there were so many challenges with Oregon unemployment. They were able to help facilitate the filing of the unemployment claims.
Now that the business has reopened, Pelican Brewing Company has been able to rehire about 300 employees and are trying to hire more, now that it is peak season, he said. This number includes staff at their hotels in Pacific City.
The Pelican Brewpub has locations in Cannon Beach, Tillamook and Pacific City.
He said considering all the restrictions these days, the business is doing “okay.” It is not at its “normal level, still it is greater than we were doing in March.”
Last year, the company started a “living wage” policy, he said. “No one makes less than $15 an hour.”
He attributes their response during the closure time to an adherence to the company’s core values.
“When this happened, we leaned into our values and thought this was the right thing to do,” he said. “There’s nothing more valuable than the people in a business.”