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Mooyah Franchisee Assists Flood-Ravaged Louisiana Coast


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After severe Louisiana flooding soaked or destroyed an estimated 40,000 homes, people and communities are struggling to recover from its devastating effects. The Baton Rouge Mooyah location, along with franchisee Chuck Kerr, has been stepping in to lend a hand in the wake of the disaster.

Kerr, who entered the Mooyah system in November 2013, kicked off his efforts immediately. After closing his singular Mooyah store on August 14, two days after the flooding began, Kerr made 100 burgers and took them to the Celtic Studios, a media center in Baton Rouge. “It just kind of went from there. A few times, we’d take 60 burgers or so, just driving down to the neighborhood, asking if they wanted burgers,” Kerr said.

His company partnered with the Mooyah in Gonzales, Louisiana, to donate meat, and both stores donated 1,200 pounds to the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge. The church was one of the only dry spots in the area, and took advantage of its central location to serve more than 139,000 meals in 21 days. Mooyah COO Michael Mabry visited the site, and Director of Brand Engagement and former LSU football player Bradie James came back and participated as well.

When the Mooyah franchise did open up again soon after, Kerr says the team set a rule that first responders wouldn’t have to pay. It turned out that employees didn’t have to offer free food the majority of the time; guests ended up paying for the responders themselves. According to Kerr, the franchise made sure that “nobody went home hungry,” and gave customers free meals if they were hungry and short on cash.

“Lord knows they support us 365 days a year, so when there’s a need in the community we need to step up and deliver,” Kerr said.

He and his executive team also made sure the company’s employees were taken care of financially. “We had four employees that were totally wiped out. Not only were they losing their belongings, and where are they going to find a place to live, but their paycheck was lower because they couldn’t make it to work,” Kerr said. “We decided to go ahead and pay them full-time work week wages to help them in those ways.”

Aside from the more recent efforts to alleviate flood damage, Kerr and his franchise have a history of charity, partnering with Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana to do a care package drive every Veterans Day. They started the project on the first anniversary of the restaurant’s opening in 2014, and Kerr says that it has grown every year since.

“Each year I want to do it a little bit bigger. Maybe one day we’ll have a big ole’ semi sitting there in the parking lot,” Kerr said.

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
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