My name is Jan Labriola and I own Harry’s Grill with my husband, Mark Labriola. We bought Harry’s six years ago without having any experience in the business, only common sense and good work ethic. Over these years I have worked the back of house long hard hours lifting 60 lb. boxes of burger, 40 lb. boxes of pork and sweated an infinite amount of blood, sweat and tears. I have watched my husband work every single day long hours working out payrolls, schedules, advertising, marketing, specials, menus, planning remodels and securing funding to pay for it, responding to reviews, tracking our projections, dealing with never-ending trivial issues and dozens of other tasks that are necessary to a successful restaurant.
We are both hardworking people who just want to earn enough to live a regular ole life here on the Island. We are Christians… that means we love us some Jesus. We have the best staff we have ever had. A real family. I am known as Mama Jan, Mississippi Mama and Ms. Jan. Don’t mess with my staff or my husband. Which brings me to the point of my letter…
To the Idiot who recently sent us a scathing email. Please never darken our door again! You called in an order and complained to Tyler for five minutes about having to pay a $5 delivery fee. Tyler is a young man who served six years in the Army. He is currently supporting himself by going to school to be a marine service technician.
After you finished with him, you lit into Steven, one of our cooks. Steven lives with his family and works at Harry’s to help support his mom and dad. Steven used his car and gas to deliver your food. The $5 delivery fee went to him for his gas and car. You berated him for not using a mask or gloves. Then you complained that the food you ate was bad and too salty. Why would you eat food if you had even one thought that it might be contaminated? Do you realize that we are keeping Harry’s open suffering a loss to enable our servers and cooks to make tips and a small paycheck? You should be ashamed of yourself for being so hateful and mean during a pandemic! By the way, you seem to need that $5 bill more than Steven or Tyler – you should have kept it. So please do us a favor and stay away from our place! Do not pick on my employees.
Let’s take the gloves first. You do realize that gloves are just like skin. If you have on gloves to open your car door, touch the latch on the gate, or anything else it’s the same as skin. Gloves are used in our kitchen when picking up raw proteins from the fridge container to the grill to prevent cross-contamination with other foods. Our cooks and servers constantly wash their hands. We constantly use sanitizer solution to wipe down our tables, chairs, bar, doors, knobs, counters, etc. The myth that is circulating about using gloves is only to make people feel better. It is a much safer precaution to constantly wash hands and sanitize surfaces rather than wear gloves and touch everything!
Secondly, the mask. First, we all heard that only infected people should wear a mask and that it was unsafe for others and worse for uninfected people to wear a mask. Then we heard that unless it was the 3M N95 mask that they were useless. Then we heard that the masks may help and you can make them at home. Blah Blah Blah!
In the beginning, Mark and I were happy to comply. Mark spent hours and hours filling out every loan application there was the moment they were available. To date, we have not gotten one penny either personally or for our employees! The thing that really bothers me is this: Did you hear that Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse was funded $20 million on day four! Yet, my husband who is working tirelessly trying to save Harry’s has to realize that the big fish are getting the money, not small businesses!
My friend Amanda, who has adopted two kids and has a house payment, has not gotten any money to help with her two small businesses (spas) on the Island. I heard that Brian, the local small grocer on the north end, requested a measly $35,000 for his employees and the fund is dry!
I am no longer putting much stock into what I hear our government is doing for us. At Harry’s, we are using good ole God-given common sense and depending on the Lord going forward. We will separate our tables, wash our hands (like we always have anyway), wipe down our surfaces with sanitizer (like we always have) but that’s it!
If you are expecting to see us all “Hazmatted Up” you will be disappointed. We want our customers to love us like you always have and come when you feel it is safe to do that, but for those few troublemakers out there, if you are looking to go out and find all the faults you can with all the small businesses who, for no fault of their own, are simply trying to keep their employees in a paycheck and the doors open without a penny of government-promised funding, then please do not come to our place.
Yesterday, I went in to help one of my employees deal with her mortgage servicing company to get some payment assistance. As I was leaving, Rachael, one of my servers (she is also working to support herself while she studies for her degree) thanked me for staying open. That is when I realized how much it meant. My staff is so loyal and so grateful to us for just keeping the doors open so they have a shot at tips and a small paycheck. We are so grateful to them for keeping their chin up and coming to work with a great attitude! Let me thank those of you who have been so sweet and so generous with your emotional support and monetary support of our staff. Thank you to all our loyal customers! We are going to fight the best we can to keep Harry’s open and going! We love our Island, our tight-knit community, our employees and our customers.