Editor’s note: Sam Hazan’s name was misspelled in a previous version of this story.
Although the new coronavirus pandemic has hit Wayne’s Smoke Shack hard, forcing the barbecue restaurant to lay off employees, remaining staff is working to not only feed the community, but give back to health care workers.
Every day this week staff members at the Superior restaurant have been cooking and loading up their vehicles to feed hospital staff throughout the region.
“We were at Avista Adventist Hospital (on Tuesday) and were able to feed 200 people,” said Wayne’s Operations Manager Sam Hazan.
After the statewide ban on dine-in restaurant service was issued on March 16, foot traffic at Wayne’s decreased about 90%.
“We’ve been scrambling,” Hazan said. “We’ve had some amazing regulars coming in and we’ve been covering our costs, but we had to let go a lot of our staff.”
She said the staff went from about 11 people to six.
“We were racking our brains on how to be productive because we’re restricted,” Hazan said. “We wanted to be able to do what we do best, cooking, and give back to people who need help the most.”
She said she knew the school community was being fed by multiple organizations so staff began calling around to the local hospitals.
“Hospital workers have been overworked and understaffed,” Hazan said. “Some hospitals say they decreased their cafeterias to serve prepackaged foods and some have closed the cafeterias … The doctors and nurses sometimes don’t get a chance to stop and eat.”
Wayne’s began donating the food from its own funds, but staff realized they wanted tomake it a daily effort to feed as many hospital employees as they could.
“We made a couple deliveries, then decided we could make this a lot bigger,” Hazan said.
The business started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for food, and as of Wednesday morning had raised more than $6,000 of its $75,000 goal.
According to the campaign, 70% of all donations will go directly toward feeding hospital staff and 30% will go to covering fees of the campaign, hiring back employees and keeping the business “alive.”
Hazan said the business hopes to be able to serve 10 hospitals a week during the pandemic.
“We’re trying to give a light to these employees and help brighten their day,” Hazan said. “We’ve been contacting hospitals to tell them what we’re doing and try to get them food during a shift change so people can get their food before they start work or when they’re done with work.”
Avista Adventist Hospital Chief Executive Officer Isaac Sendros said the support from the business is an “exceptional” example of how the community can come together in difficult times.
“Gratitude can do many amazing things for the soul,” Sanders said. “In these unprecedented times we are experiencing an unprecedented show of support from our community, which is doing a great deal to energize our team.”
On Thursday, Hazan said Wayne’s would be feeding another 800 employees at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center. This week, the restaurant also delivered to Boulder Community Health, UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, Longmont United Hospital, Longs Peak Hospital, Centennial Peaks Hospital, Denver Health Medical Center, Kindred Hospital, Porter Adventist Hospital and National Jewish Health.
“At the hospitals they said they’re doing everything they can as it comes in, and we want to be able to keep this going for as long as possible,” Hazan said.