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Avocet to bring majority of employees off furlough

Hospitality and Tourism
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Avocet Hospitality Group is bringing more than 100 of its furloughed employees back to work this week to complete online training in preparation for the reopening of its hotels and restaurants.

Avocet owns and operates The Vendue in downtown Charleston, along with its Revival restaurant and rooftop bar; and Tides Folly Beach, Blu Beach Bar & Grill and Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar on Folly Beach.

The hospitality group also owns and operates The Read House Hotel and Bridgeman’s Chophouse in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The company furloughed the majority of its employees the week of March 16 because of COVID-19. Furloughed employees were given all of their accrued paid time off as well as an additional two weeks of furlough pay. Avocet also agreed to cover all employee health insurance premiums until the end of furlough.

Kris Altman, chief marketing officer for Avocet, said about 80% to 90% of furloughed employees in the Charleston area are returning to work this week.

The online training will begin Wednesday. The training will focus mainly on safely serving guests and minimizing the risk of spreading or contracting the coronavirus. Courses will also cover continuing education on systems, customer service and company policies, as well as cooking demonstrations and mixology classes.

The training will be a mix of pre-taped videos and live training from managers and department heads. Altman said the trainings are intended to cover the employee’s entire workday.

“The training courses are designed to make sure we do everything possible to protect our employees and guests,” Jonathan Weitz, owner of Avocet Hospitality, said in a news release. “Nobody wins if we open too fast without proper safety training and procedures.”

Each hotel and restaurant will reopen in phases to accommodate customer demand without compromising anyone’s health.

Tides Folly Beach will reopen when the city allows overnight accommodations, as long as the online training courses are complete. The Vendue is expected to open a limited number of rooms on Friday because of a recent uptick in reservation requests, though the majority of Vendue employees will remain home to finish the online classes.

“It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to bring a large part of our team back to work and put money in their pocket,” Weitz said. “There’s been a lot of uncertainty over the past several weeks surrounding the coronavirus, but we’re finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Reach Patrick Hoff at 843-849-3144.

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