When a fire razed Bruce Kroll's Culver's Restaurant in Platteville, Wisconsin, last November his 40 employees weren't sure if they still had jobs. When Kroll told them what he would do for them, however, they were stunned.
"He actually paid us out of his own pocket until the store was rebuilt. That's why I love working here. I'm probably going to be here another five years just because of the owner," said Cole Cooper, one of Kroll's employees who has worked at the restaurant for five years, in an interview with Channel 3000.
"What the owner could have done is he could have said, 'Hey, you can find another place of employment,'" Cole added.
Kroll, who has owned the restaurant for 19 years, however, didn't. Seeing the value of his employees to his business, he decided to keep paying his employees for six months while the restaurant was being rebuilt. Insurance covered the first two months of wages while the remaining four months came directly from Kroll's pocket — $144,000 worth of wages.
"To me, not only was it the right thing to do, it made business sense to do it," Kroll told Channel 3000. "It is just a building and Culver's of Platteville is much more than that. It is the people and not the building. And we didn't lose the people, so why should we allow the fire to cause that to happen?" Kroll explained.
The restaurant owner was able to continue to pay his employees from profits he earned at another Culver's he owns in Dubuque, Iowa.
His only condition for continuing to pay them their wages as the Platteville restaurant was being rebuilt was to volunteer and help their community. And they did it, gladly.
Some of his workers served Christmas dinner for 150 people at a local church while others helped out at a camp. The also did something great for the Platteville Fire Department.
"We actually set up a fundraiser in honor of the local Platteville Fire Department. We fundraised over $2,000, and 100 percent of the donations were actually given to the fire department," Cooper noted in the report.
The restaurant reopened exactly six months after the fire on June 16. Less than 24 hours later it was forced to close again when a tornado passed through the area within 20 yards of the restaurant. No damage was done to the building, but the workers stepped up for their boss and had the business up and running after that.