I think we can all agree on a few things: The holidays can be stressful.
Jobs are stressful. Not having a job is extremely stressful. Losing a job can be devastating.
So, imagine the employees of Manny’s Uptown, who woke up on Christmas Eve to see that their place of employment caught fire and is closed.
Luckily, no one got hurt. But Christmas is the next day and now you might have one check coming your way, but after that, who knows?
“I got a call and rushed down there, and real quickly there were a couple things I was concerned about,” says Bob Sharp, co-general partner of Manny’s Uptown. “My first concern was I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, and I knew employees and customers wouldn’t be because we were closed, but I was very concerned about the firefighters that night. Second, after we knew they were safe, I was worried about my employees. They’re paramount.”
Most people who run a restaurant (or really any business) know they can do everything in their power to make a space welcoming and the food delicious, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the people. Employee dedication to carrying through a vision, both in terms of hospitality and food, can make or break a restaurant.
Sharp says that at any given time they have between 35 and 40 employees at their Uptown location. Finding them work in other restaurants quickly became a focus after the fire.
"We do have the fortune of having three other restaurants,” Sharp says. “It’s a change in where they go and how they get there, but our employees actually come from all over the metroplex. So, we’re trying to help with where they want to be. ... We’re also trying to be athletic with our scheduling, and they are, too.”
They’ve already got several employees working shifts at other locations. And he noted that his other restaurants are all along bus lines, so hopefully his workers can get there one way or another.
Finally, they have a new restaurant opening in early January in Heath, between Rowlett and Rockwall, which will allow for even more opportunities.
“Our promise to our employees is to communicate with them before the public. We want people to sleep and not be anxious, so we’re making sure we do what we can to keep them updated with the progress of the Uptown location,” Sharp says.
And, right now, he emphasizes that progress is a matter of handling one phone call at a time.
“It won’t ever happen as fast as we want. It’s a process. But, hopefully the space will be even better when it’s fixed. That’s our goal,” Sharp says. Despite previous reports of a three- to four-month shutdown, Sharp says it’s too soon to know when they will reopen.
For now, they’re focusing on moving forward, one slow step at a time, handling one phone call at a time and alleviating as much anxiety for his employees as possible.
I asked Sharp twice if there were anything anyone could do to help.
“Really, I don’t [want] this to come across the wrong way," he says, "but eating out at our other places is the only thing."