GRUMPY’S RESTAURANT GIVES BACK IN TIMES OF CRISIS
How the family-focused franchise saw the pandemic as an opportunity to make a difference.
By Daniel DeLeon, Grumpy’s Restaurant
Full-service restaurants were some of the hardest hit franchises as the pandemic began last year. As dining rooms across the country were shut down, many of us faced difficult decisions as we tried to figure out how to stay afloat. Looking back at that moment, there was so much that was unknown, and we had no idea how long we would be affected by this crisis. With all of the uncertainty, the one thing that mattered at the time was making sure that our staff and community were cared for.
Putting People First
Based just outside of Jacksonville, Florida, our original location has become a staple in our small, close-knit community. At Grumpy’s, we view our staff as family, so the first thing I did was secure future income for our staff and decided to forfeit my salary to help continue sending my staff home with paychecks, even though our restaurant dining rooms were closed. Our regular customers quickly stepped in and began placing to-go orders, bringing in generous tips to our staff, and doing everything they could to help out. Others came to me and told me how much our story resonated with them as they navigated these difficult times.
At Grumpy’s, we view our staff as family, so the first thing I did was secure future income for our staff and decided to forfeit my salary to help continue sending my staff home with paychecks…”
It was then that I realized that there were so many others in our community who were hurting, and that Grumpy’s needed to do something to help.
I worked with the restaurant’s vendors to set up an event where anyone could come and pick up free produce if they could not afford groceries. We had thousands of dollars’ worth of fresh food and we expected the event to last multiple days, but when word got around, we were cleared out in just a few hours. Wanting to do more to help, we launched the Grumpy’s Community Action Campaign, where patrons can make a donation towards a meal that we prepare and deliver to people in the community. Patrons can also create a personal “Thank You” card that we will deliver with each meal. With every donation raised, we match the donation, and we have delivered over 1,000 meals in the community to healthcare workers, first responders, essential grocery store workers and those in need.
Growing with a Mission
Our commitment to our staff and involvement within our community has solidified what it means to be a part of the Grumpy’s family. Our staff and community support us, and we do the same for them. We went into 2020 with just one location open, but all of our hard work has helped us kick off our franchise expansion, too. Th e positivity surrounding our franchise during the pandemic helped draw in our first two franchisees, who align with our mission to create an environment where everyone feels like family. Our first franchise opened in Middleburg, Florida, in October, and we held two soft opening events benefitting our local YMCA chapter where we raised over $5,000 for the organization. Hosting this event not only started our relationship with the local community on the right foot for our new restaurant, but it was also a great way to show people that the culture of Grumpy’s will be replicated with each new restaurant that we open.
…we have delivered over 1,000 meals in the community to healthcare workers, first responders, essential grocery store workers and those in need.”
We have another franchise set to open this spring and plans for two more to open in Northeast Florida later in the year, each of which will have a similar event benefitting a local charity. Our Community Action Campaign continues on as well, and is something that each new restaurant participates in.
Creating One Goal
The past year had many ups and downs, but I am thankful that it gave us an opportunity to really solidify who we are as a brand. Our commitment to our staff and community involvement was critical in kickstarting our franchise expansion and bringing in franchise partners who are excited to continue carrying out our mission in their own communities. People feel connected to Grumpy’s not only because of what we have done, but because of how we have made people feel.
…if your franchise doesn’t have a consistent culture and an overarching mission, then people won’t feel a connection to your business.”
Before Grumpy’s, I was a multi-unit franchisee for multiple diff erent restaurant brands, as well as a franchisor representative with Restaurant Brands International. What I learned from my experience was that family and culture are everything, and if your franchise doesn’t have a consistent culture and an overarching mission, then people won’t feel a connection to your business. While navigating the pandemic has not been easy, it is our commitment to our family and unified mission that helped us carry on and prosper.
Now, our growing franchise concept is stronger than ever, and we are able to deepen our presence within our communities because of it. Being in franchising gives all of us the ultimate platform to build connections in new areas and make a difference on a larger scale. As Grumpy’s continues to expand, we are able to grow our family and form relationships with even more families and communities inside and outside of the restaurant.
Daniel DeLeon is the president and CEO of Grumpy’s Restaurant, a full-service restaurant franchise dedicated to serving homestyle, made-from-scratch food at an aff ordable, family-friendly price. For more information and franchise opportunities for International Franchise Association (IFA) franchisor member Grumpy’s Restaurant, visit franchise.org/franchiseopportunities/grumpys-restaurant-franchisor-llc.