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After a Fire, an Owner's Concern for His Employees Burns Bright

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This story appears in the June 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When a business is destroyed by fire, the owners typically focus on how much their insurance will pay out and how long it will take to rebuild. But for the employees stuck in limbo, there’s another issue—do they take unemployment and hold out for their old jobs, or move on to something else? That was the dilemma 40 workers faced when a fire of undetermined origin gutted the newly remodeled Culver’s restaurant in the university town of Platteville, Wis., on the night of Nov. 13, 2013. 

Kevin J. Miyazaki
He’s got your back: Bruce Kroll of Culver’s.

But owner Bruce Kroll eased their fears, telling them their salaries would be paid throughout the rebuilding process. His only caveat? Rather than playing Xbox or catching up on Netflix, the employees had to perform some sort of community service while the restaurant was being rebuilt. What they didn’t know at the time is that insurance would only pay for roughly two months of their salaries. Kroll paid for an additional four months, about $144,000, out of his own pocket—a fact he hid until after the restaurant reopened. 

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