Before young Marine recruits in Parker ship out to bootcamp, a lot of them find jobs at The Chicken Shack. Co-owner Gus Velez has a partnership with the local Marine recruiting center, and any new …
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Before young Marine recruits in Parker ship out to bootcamp, a lot of them find jobs at The Chicken Shack.
Co-owner Gus Velez has a partnership with the local Marine recruiting center, and any new recruits in need of work go to him. The Chicken Shack has three employees going into service currently.
“It's helping my brother,” Velez said. “That's what I tell them when they leave. `When you come back, you're going to be my brother, and you're going to be brother forever because we're both Marines.'”
Velez was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps from 1985-89.
Velez said, from his experience, recruits are often turned away from hourly jobs in the months prior to leaving for bootcamp.
“Once the employer finds out they're getting ready to go to bootcamp, they don't hire them because they're going to be gone," he said.
Gus and Molly Velez opened The Chicken Shack in Parker in 2015. It has since become a mini-pipeline for recruits to work before beginning their service.
On Nov. 12, one day before the county moved to stricter safer-at-home orders, Gus Velez sat at one of the few unoccupied tables at the Chicken Shack feeling unfazed by the changes ahead. COVID-19 cases are surging throughout the metro area. Douglas County moved to stricter Safer at Home orders Nov. 13, requiring restaurants operate at 25% maximum capacity, or 25 people, according to the Tri-County Health Department.
“The transition from dine-in to carry-out and delivery wasn't a difficult one because we already had that,” Velez said. “We are ready for it because we understand what we're getting into, compared to last time. We understand that if everything gets shut down, we'll have to move to 100% curbside, delivery and stuff like that.”
Before the pandemic, the Chicken Shack, 11211 Dransfeldt Road, made roughly half its sales from take-out orders. The restaurant is still making only 30% to 35% of what it did last year.
“It's not as scary as it was the first time around because the first time around, the first couple of weeks, our sales were down 70%,” Velez said. “We didn't know how much longer we could keep the doors open.”
Velez employed the use of delivery apps and online sales. Employees are getting used to running in and out of the restaurant to deliver curbside meals. Wearing a mask in the kitchen gets uncomfortable. Sanitizing efforts have increased to satisfy new public health requirements.
“It's changed the way we do our business,” Velez said. “Now that the pandemic is starting to escalate again, it's putting us back to where we were, back in March, where we didn't know what to expect, they shut everything down and were back on our heels wondering `Now what do we do?'”
Velez believes some of these changes are here to stay.
“I feel like it's going to be a part of us from now on,” Velez said.
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