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Why Ted’s Fish Fry is shutting its doors for three days

The seven-unit, quick-service chain in upstate New York is making the expensive decision to give its overworked employees some paid downtime for their mental health.
Ted's Fish Fry
Photo courtesy Ted's Fish Fry

It’s going to cost Ted’s Fish Fry at least $60,000 in lost sales to shut down for three days this week to give employees paid time off.

But the general manager of the seven-unit quick-service chain in upstate New York said the price was worth it to support his 100 over-worked employees who have toiled through the pandemic.

“As far as the payroll goes, it’s all going to add up,” Ted’s Fish Fry GM Bill Deeb, grandson of the chain’s founder, said. “It’s going to be a big expense. We’re obviously losing out on the revenue but it’s worth it. For these guys, it’s worth it.”

Ted’s shared the three-day closure news on Facebook, drawing a couple dozen comments supportive of the decision with one calling the business a “class act.”

The three paid days off begins Sunday with a “Sunday Funday” at the chain’s new bar, Ted’s said in the post.

“This past year and a half we have all placed so much emphasis on our health,” the post said. “We were very fortunate to keep our doors open throughout the pandemic and we have our employees to thank for that. We think it is necessary to give them a much-needed ‘mental health break’ after all of the extra work and challenges they've overcome throughout this pandemic.”

Most employees are working six days a week, Deeb said. Every location is at least one person short per shift, with some units down three or four employees, he said.

The idea arose when several of the chain’s managers were chatting. One had just returned from a week in Aruba but was already stressed out by staffing issues and workload, Deeb said.

“I’m just noticing everybody is kind of all over the place,” he said. “The attitudes were starting to be affected. I said, ‘The only way we can do this is just to close.’ I don’t know how else to say it. It’s the only way to get these guys in the right mindset.”

Deeb’s grandfather started Ted’s Fish Fry in 1949. The chain buys fish filets from the Boston area, cuts them into long strips, hand breads them and serves them in hot dog buns, he said.

“We did pretty well last year during the beginning of the pandemic,” he said. “It was an easy transition to takeout. When restaurants were closing, we became one of the only options … They’ve been working nonstop.”

In August and September, 277-unit Bojangles closed all of its restaurants for two days to give its workers time for “rest and refreshment.” Those days off, however, were unpaid.

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