Franchisee Pays Employees $144K Out of Pocket After Fire Destroys Restaurant

Entrepreneur

When a fire burned down a Culver's Restaurant in Platteville, Wis., last November, employees assumed they'd be out of work. Instead, their boss came to the rescue.

Bruce Kroll, who has owned the restaurant for 19 years, continued to pay his 40 employees out of pocket while the restaurant was being rebuilt, reports local station WISC-TV in Madison, Wis. While his insurance paid for the first 60 days of employees' payroll, Kroll ponied up almost $144,000 of his own money over the remaining four months.

Kroll says that paying employees was not only the right thing to do, but a wise business move. It seems to have paid off in employee loyalty: one employee reports he's planning on working at the restaurant for another five years purely because of the owner.

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While Culver's was closed, Kroll asked employees to volunteer their time to help the community. Employees served Christmas dinner at an area church, volunteered at camp and held a fundraiser in honor of the local fire department, according to the report.

For Kroll, who also owns a Culver's in Dubuque, Iowa, business is all about the people involved. And his business is whole again: exactly six months after the fire, the restaurant reopened on June 16. Despite briefly closing again after a near miss with tornado the next day, Kroll and his loyal employees are here to stay, and serve as a reminder of what really matters.

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