Working To Stay Open, Restaurant Focusing On Employees For Survival

Posted at 11:19 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 23:19:26-05

LANSING, Mich. — Throughout the pandemic we’ve shown stories of the ways small businesses have adapted to, Dan Grossman has the story of one business who has been able to stay open by focusing on their employees’ morale.

Like any picture-perfect love story Matt Chasseur and Ashley Fees Chasseur share interests, bonds, and a propensity to forget when exactly they met “we’ve been married for two years. Like two and a half years. and like 10 years maybe? It’s so terrible I don’t even know. It’s ok you guys deal with food not numbers”

It was ten years ago at an upscale restaurant in Chicago. Matt was a chef, Ashley a hostess, and like the kitchen in which they shared so many hours, a flame erupted and a partnership was born – in more than one way. “We know when we need to be professional to each other, and we also know that’s “ Chef Matt ” talking to me not my husband Matt talking to me”

So how does this relate to the pandemic? Well, it’s all led to their greatest strengths - their communication - their passion for their employees, and how it’s allowed the Chasseur’s Restaurant, Peche, to survive one of the biggest challenges their partnership has faced yet in a town not known for this type of dining.

“In Chicago you were in a kitchen with 25 other cooks and everyone had specific tasks. You walk into this environment and you’re like I don’t know how all this will get done, and then you look around and everyone is willing to jump in and dive in.”

When the pandemic hit - Peche was like any other restaurant trying to make ends meet. Most employees were let go, budgets were cut - but then Matt started drawing from previous jobs; ones where the menus were simplified - one dish, instead of 5 - and the contents of that dish had a practical purpose.

“You’re going to fight a very hard fight. That was one thing that was very important to us - is making sure that we were producing food that was not only delicious, but help boost your immune system.

”The moves allowed Matt to consolidate what was happening, cut costs, and keep morale high among his remaining employees - after all - that was their MO from the start.

“We’re going to take our best shot at this. Everyone has invested so much in us so we’re making sure we’re investing in them as well.” What’s happening now might not be picture perfect, but it hasn’t changed a thing about who they are as people - or partners.

“Is that Chef Matt or husband Matt? That’s husband Matt.”

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