When a restaurant closes for two weeks, it’s never a good sign. For many restaurants, it’s a death sentence.
However, when Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar in Bakersfield, California closes for two weeks each year, it’s not a sign that the business is doing poorly—it’s a sign that the business is doing everything it can to keep its employees happy, especially their head chef.
For the past six years, Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar has closed for two weeks in the fall. Very few were aware why they shut their doors until this year, when they decided to post about it on Facebook, and a local happened to snap a photo of the sign they hung on their door.
Each year they close for two weeks to allow their head chef to visit his family in Thailand.
Restaurant owners Nick and Pum Hansa pay for the airfare so their head chef, Preeda Piamfa, can afford to go back to see his wife and two children in Thailand.
Prior to working at the Hansas’ restaurant, Piamfa, who came to the United States in the mid-90s, worked at several local Thai restaurants. He barely made $3,000 a month. His luck changed in 2011 when the Hansas recruited him to be the head chef at their new restaurant.
When they met, Piamfa mentioned how it had been 15 years since he last saw his family, and the Hansas assured him that would change.
“We made the decision from the start to commit to Preeda, and informed him we would close for two weeks a year and, yes, pay for his ticket,” Nick told the Daily Mail.
The Hansas pay for their chef’s flight and give their other employees a paid vacation.
According to the Daily Mail, the owners choose a two-week period when a county fair takes place, so it’s generally a time when they see a lower revenue. However, they still lose about $50,000 each time they close.
“Although we lose some revenue, this policy has really cemented our relationship with our head chef, which we believe will keep stable staffing and assure our long-term success,” Nick said.