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Kamloops restaurant staff given mandatory paid vacation to 'recharge' after stressful summer

Senor Froggy's downtown Kamloops location.
Senor Froggy's downtown Kamloops location.
Image Credit: CONTRIBUTED/Senor Froggy

After a long year, and especially difficult summer, staff at an iconic Kamloops restaurant will be given a mandatory paid vacation next week.

Rob Stodola, owner of Señor Froggy, said both locations will be closed from Sept. 13 to Sept. 20 to give staff a break from a year that presented an "unprecedented level of stress."

Although the summer of 2021 was supposed to be a time to recover and re-open throughout the province, a steady stream of tragic circumstances added more stress upon Stodola's staff and he decided they need some time to "recharge."

There are two Señor Froggy restaurant locations in Kamloops, with a third open at Sandman Centre for Blazers games and other events. The restaurant has been a staple of Kamloops, especially on the North Shore, for over three decades.

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Starting with the announcement from Tk'emlups te Secwepemc of the finding of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, wildfires plagued Kamloops with smoke, then COVID-19 public health measures were reinstated as the province entered a fourth wave of the pandemic.

"We decided that there's no reason to think we're completely through everything," Stodola told "It means shutting down and saying it's worth it. We are going to stop everything, regroup, spend time with families and recuperate."

Through six weeks of planning, he said much of his staff expressed interest in a week off even without pay. However, what they ended up doing was to pay each staff member something similar to what their regular pay during a week would be.

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The timing of the restaurant closure falls in line with the B.C. Government's plan to institute a vaccine card system for certain services, including restaurants. Stodola said that is an "advantageous" coincidence.

"The fact it will coincide and we can start a week after is the universe telling me: 'good call,'" he said, adding that he is a firm believer in vaccines.

The provincial vaccine card policies will come into effect on Sept. 13, requiring patrons at certain services and events to show proof of having at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. A two-dose requirement will follow on Oct. 24.

For his week off, he plans to kayak, go biking with his kids and work on projects around the house. He will also visit other restaurants and observe how other businesses learn to work with the vaccine card system before they have to work with the new public health orders at his two Kamloops locations.

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Señor Froggy has had no issues with keeping staff in the last year, but Stodola said hiring is typically difficult in the restaurant industry. While others in the industry have struggled to keep up staffing levels in recent months, he has had very low turn over.

The most difficult thing for Stodola and the restaurants in terms of staffing, he said, was hiring the extra staff needed to deal with the demands of following public health orders.

"I've seen tougher hiring times, but I've never seen such high stress levels for everybody, customers and staff at the same time," Stodola said.

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