The chief executive officer of one of America’s most beloved restaurant chains slammed lockdown measures enacted by governments across the country, and now he’s telling leaders what they have to do if they expect him to close his own dining rooms.
This isn’t a move to callously boost his profit margins, but to protect the livelihoods of every person who works for him.
Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer told Business Insider about the damage done by COVID-19 lockdowns in an interview published Nov. 18.
“A lockdown is going to put a lot of people out of work,” Ehmer said. “It’s really not about the business — it’s about the people. These people have jobs, they have livelihoods. They need to take care of their families.”
Ehmer’s statements were made amid the beginnings of a second wave of shutdowns. Spearheaded by the governors of New Mexico and Oregon, the newer measures allow for restrictions lasting longer than the unofficial two-week quarantine standard used in lockdowns that swept the country earlier this year.
Longer-term restrictions enacted with the initial shutdowns have devastated American businesses. For tipped workers, mandates banning in-person services resulted in a major reduction in take-home pay.
Now, if the government wants to close a Waffle House dining room and endanger the livelihoods of its workers, Ehmer says it will have to do more than ask politely. According to the CEO, government officials have one choice if they want his dining rooms closed — Waffle House won’t be doing it voluntarily.
“The only reason we think that we would shut a dining room down at this point is if the local government made us do so,” the defiant CEO told Business Insider.
One of Waffle House’s most respected qualities, besides the welcoming atmosphere and mouthwatering breakfast offerings, is its ability to offer service in the midst of catastrophe.
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The diner chain is one of the first businesses to open in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Waffle House’s dining room service is so reliable that the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses a “Waffle House Index” to track the number of closed locations as an informal indicator to gauge how bad a crisis really is.
Ehmer said that the best way to face a crisis was to “stand in the middle of it,” helping people and setting things right as the storm rages.
Fortunately for Waffle House and its patrons, this style of leadership isn’t changing because of a virus.
Leaders in government could learn a lesson from Ehmer, who asserts the men and women leading millions in our nation are too insulated from the damaging consequences of their lockdowns.
“None of the people who make the decisions to shut down businesses and impact people’s livelihoods ever have their own livelihood impacted,” Ehmer told Business Insider. “The people making the decisions are not paying the same price that the workers in this country are paying.”
As for the stimulus checks handed out to individuals and businesses to alleviate economic hardships, earning an honest living with one’s own two hands is undoubtedly more precious than any payments from a government dole.
“The stimulus helped a lot of restaurants and more importantly a lot of people early on,” Ehmer told Business Insider. “But, what you can’t value enough is someone’s peace of mind and security that they have a job that they can count on.”
With American workers at all levels of business ready to bring our economy roaring back, all eyes are on leaders in government. As we saw earlier this year, they are perfectly willing to destroy communities with the stroke of a pen.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.